Top 10 articles in 2019

Dear readers and friends,

another year passed and I have to thank you everyone for the time spent reading this blog, sharing articles and commenting.

As usual, I recap the most interesting topics of 2019 in the first article of 2020.

  1. Glycaemic index labeling and related claims: EU Commission answer to a MEP query about the possibility to do glycaemic index claims on the labels in EU.;
  2. Transition period to new Food Labeling Standards for Japan is coming to the end: recap of upcoming Japanese labelling rules changes, by Label Bank (Osaka);
  3. EU – Upcoming exemptions for traditional generic descriptors (which could imply an effect on health) from nutrition and health claims Regulation;
  4. FDA Announces Public Meeting to Discuss Modernizing Food Standards of Identity: on 27th September 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a public meeting to give interested parties an opportunity to discuss FDA’s effort to modernize food standards of identity and to provide information about changes the FDA could make to existing standards of identity;
  5. Choices International Foundation front of pack logo: guest article by Choices International Foundation, about a voluntary front of pack labeling scheme;
  6. EU DG Health and Food Safety audit in Sweden – Unexpected flaws in microbial safety of food of non-animal origin: summary of a recent audit of the EU Commission services on the Swedish official control system for food of non animal origin;
  7. FDA moving down the road of Dietary Fibers definition: on 27th March the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it intends to propose that “cross-linked phosphorylated RS4” – regardless of source – be added to the definition of dietary fiber. The action was taken in response to a citizen petition from MGP Ingredients Inc;
  8. Food Allergy Forum Report and New Food Law Latest Youtube Channel; opening video of the Food Law Latest Youtube Channel, regarding the Food Allergy Forum held in Amsterdam on 1st-3rd April 2019;
  9. Japan – Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO ‘evocation’ case: in light of the application of the EU-Japan free trade agreement, this Q&A between a MEP and the EU Commission, raise a curious case of evocation of a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin, recognized under Reg. EU 1151/2012);
  10. 100″ food news n. 3 – Allergen labeling and trans fats limitations in UE: weekly issue of our 100″ Food News, with Bert Popping from FOCOS – Food Consulting…strategically, covering several topics: RASFF pathogen data analysis (00:21), Belgium introduces Nutri-Score (01:22), New trans fats regulations (01:54), Pret-A-Manger starts allergen labelling (02:27), Further Headlines: new on-site devices for pesticides and pathogen analysis.

EU – Breaking news on allergens labelling

Last week we had great movement around this topic.

DG Sanco opened a public consultation on Guidelines relating to the provision of information on substances or products causing allergies or intolerances as listed in Annex II of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers.

The consultation aim is to gather opinions from consumers and stakeholders about the draft document. The consultation will be closed on 4th January 2015.

For the pre-packed foods the rules are quite clear and the main topic is around gluten: the Commission suggest to emphasize not the word “gluten” but the name of the cereal (i.e. wheat, barley, …).

For non pre-packed food, the following Q&A give an idea of what is the line of the Commission and the space given to Member States legislation (see 44.2 FIC Reg.).

Can Member States allow, through national measures, the provision of information on substances or products causing allergies or intolerances used in the manufacture or preparation of a non-prepacked food, only and simply upon request by the consumer?

The provision of allergen information “upon request” is not to be considered as a “means of providing information’. However, in a spirit of a pragmatic approach, indicatively, national measures may stipulate that detailed allergen/intolerance information regarding the manufacture or preparation of a non-prepacked food may be given upon request by the consumer, provided that the food business operator indicates in a conspicuous place and in such a way as to be easily visible, 11 clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible, that such information can be obtained upon request. This combination would already indicate to the consumer that the non-prepacked food
concerned raises issues relating to allergen/intolerances and that such information is available and easily accessible.

The guidelines should be read in conjunction with the legislation itself. The examples it contains are given for illustration only. The guidelines and examples given in the document cannot be regarded as official interpretation of
the legislation, this being the exclusive reserve of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Moreover it is not a final document, but is better than nothing for our food business operators  in light of the fact that in a week from now the FIC Regulation will enter in application.

Few days before the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a Scientific Opinion on the evaluation of allergenic foods and food ingredients for labelling purposes.

The Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA Panel) updated its previous opinions relative to food ingredients or substances with known allergenic potential listed in Annex IIIa of 2003/89/EC, as amended. These include cereals containing gluten, milk and dairy products, eggs, nuts, peanuts, soy, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, celery, lupin, sesame, mustard and sulphites. The opinion relates to immunoglobulin (Ig)E- and non-IgE-mediated food allergy, to coeliac disease and to adverse reactions to sulphites in food, and it does not address non-immune-mediated adverse reactions to food. It includes information on the prevalence of food allergy in unselected populations, proteins identified as food allergens, cross-reactivities, the effects of food processing on the allergenicity of foods and ingredients, methods for the detection of allergens and allergenic foods, doses observed to trigger adverse reactions in sensitive individuals and risk assessment methodologies that have been used to derive individual and population thresholds for selected allergenic foods.

The huge opinion (286 pages) has many interesting point, but cannot cut clear two of the main issues linked to the possibility to establish thresholds for labelling purposes: which doses trigger adverse reactions (too many variables) and which methods use to detect allergens.