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.

Glycaemic index labeling and related claims

The EU Commission just answered to a Member of the European Parliament query about the chance to do glycaemic index claims on the labels in EU.

The answer is interesting in the sense that opens half a door to national interpretation by competent authorities about the issue.

Please do share your thoughts and experience regarding this interpretation of the EU Commission and national enforcement. This would be of great help to many peers.

29th November 2018 – Question for written answer E-006064-18 to the Commission

Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods lays down the criteria to be met by such claims. This would appear to cover glycaemic index labelling, which provides important indications regarding the metabolic effects of a given food product.

In this connection, it appears that 16 applications for health claim authorisations seeking to establish a link between the glycaemic index of a food or food ingredient and its effects on health have apparently been rejected.

Can the Commission say whether glycaemic index food labelling falls under Regulation (EC) 1924/2006?

If not, what provisions apply to glycaemic index labelling?

24th January 2019 – Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the European Commission

The Commission considers claims referring to the glycaemic index (GI) of a food as falling under the scope of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 (1).

In the context of the assessment of health claims applications on carbohydrates with a low GI, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) considered that carbohydrates with a low GI are not sufficiently characterised. EFSA further explained that ‘the GI of a carbohydrate-containing food depends on several factors other than the amount of available (glycaemic) carbohydrates present (e.g. amount and type of dietary fibre, amount of dietary fat, energy density, physical properties, mode of preparation) […]’ (2).

Nevertheless, EFSA assessed in the past with a favourable outcome several health claims on the reduction of post-prandial glycaemic response as the specific health benefit. The latter is reflected in the authorised wording of the corresponding permitted health claims (3).

When enforcing EC law in this context, Member States may allow GI-claims accompanied by or similar to the authorised claims on post-prandial glycaemic response within the limits set by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

(1) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32006R1924&from=en
(2) https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1491
(3) Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02012R0432-20170822&from=EN

(Source: EU Parliament)

Some examples of actual authorised health claims on the reduction of post-prandial glycaemic response:

  1. Consumption of beta-glucans from oats or barley as part of a meal contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal

(The claim may be used only for food which contains at least 4 g of beta-glucans from oats or barley for each 30 g of available carbohydrates in a quantified portion as part of the meal. In order to bear the claim information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming the beta-glucans from oats or barley as part of the meal).

2. Consumption of arabinoxylan as part of a meal contributes to a reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal

(The claim may be used only for food which contains at least 8 g of arabinoxylan (AX)-rich fibre produced from wheat endosperm (at least 60 % AX by weight) per 100 g of available carbohydrates in a quantified portion as part of the meal. In order to bear the claim information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming the arabinoxylan (AX)-rich fibre produced from wheat endosperm as part of the meal).