EU Commission report on food intended for sportspeople

The report, published on 15th June 2016, is intended to meet the obligation set for the Commission by Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food intended for infants and young children, food for special medical purposes, and total diet replacement for weight control (hereinafter ‘FSG Regulation’). According to this Article, the Commission is required to present to the European Parliament and to the Council, after consulting the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a report on the necessity, if any, of provisions for food intended for sportspeople (hereinafter ‘sports food’).

The request for this report is linked to the repeal by the FSG Regulation of the framework on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses, as of 20 July 2016. This framework was established by a Council Directive in 1989 and completed by the recast Directive 2009/39/EC.

Sports food can currently be classified either (1) as ‘foodstuff intended for particular nutritional uses’ under Directive 2009/39/EC or (2) as food for normal consumption governed by relevant horizontal rules of food law. The FSG Regulation does not include sports food within its scope, since it focuses on foods for certain vulnerable groups of consumers.

Thus, since a categorisation as foodstuff intended for particular nutritional uses will no longer be available to sports food, this type of food will be exclusively governed by horizontal rules of food law as from 20 July 2016.

This report reflects on potential consequences of the change of status for sports food.

It builds upon a market study carried out by the Food Chain Evaluation Consortium (FCEC Study) between January 2015 and June 2015. In the context of the preparation of this report, a consultation was carried out with national competent authorities and other interested parties.

The European Commission consulted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which provided scientific and technical assistance regarding sports food. EFSA compiled existing scientific advice in the area of nutrition and health claims and Dietary References Values for adults that are relevant to sportspeople and informed the Commission that its subsequent advice does not differ from the recommendations of the Report of the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) adopted in 2001 on composition and specification of food intended to meet the expenditure of intense muscular effort, especially for sportsmen.

Here below, the conclusions:

“There are clear indications that sport has become mainstream in the general population. Consequently, people carrying out sports activity can hardly be characterised as a specific vulnerable group of consumers but rather as a target group of the general population who is protected at an appropriate level by horizontal legislation.

In view of the growing completion of the horizontal rules of food law which took place in the last years, an appropriate legislative framework is in place to ensure that sports food classified nowadays as food intended for particular nutritional uses can remain on the market and can operate. The horizontal rules of food law provide the necessary safeguards for these products in terms of food safety, food composition, consumer information and legal certainty. As a result, not only all sports food products will be subject to the same legal requirements but they will have the same level of harmonisation as other foods falling under the horizontal rules of food law. It is expected that, through the simplification and clarification of the legal framework applicable for sports food, legal certainty will be enhanced and the current fragmentation based on the different legal frameworks reduced.

From this analysis, it can be concluded that there is no necessity for specific provisions for food intended for sportspeople. Nevertheless, sports food may include some element of specificity and the analysis in this report shows that this may have to be taken into account by the Commission in the application and implementation of the horizontal rules, so that such specificities can be adequately addressed. The Commission will ensure proper application of horizontal legislation and monitor the developments after 20 July 2016.”

(Source: DG Sante website)

QeA to EU Commission – Protecting coeliac consumers and gluten-free logos

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Giovanni La Via (PPE) – 18th February 2016

Subject:  Products containing gluten: protecting coeliac consumers

Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disorder that affects 1% of the European population, in which the immune system can cause malabsorption and increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies, anaemia and osteoporosis, given that the obvious sources of gluten are a commonly-consumed range of food products.

Regulation (EC) No 1169/2011 prescribes a mandatory requirement for the supply of information on all foodstuff labels of substances known to cause allergic reactions and intolerances (including grains containing gluten) every time they are used as ingredients in food. Regulation (EC) No 41/2009 establishes EU harmonised conditions for the voluntary use of ‘gluten-free’ indications, without precluding the risk for people suffering from gluten intolerance.

Does the Commission consider that the only label indication on the presence of gluten, moreover in several foreign languages, may risk consumer confusion?

Does it consider it appropriate to establish harmonised conditions for the mandatory use of ‘gluten-free’ wording or the adoption of a clear and obvious European symbol indicating the absence of gluten?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 6th April 2016

Regulation (EC) No 41/2009(1) lays down harmonised conditions that food business operators must respect to be able to use the ‘gluten-free’ and ‘very low gluten’ statements in the EU. Such harmonisation ensures the free movement of different foods appropriate to coeliacs’ needs and guarantees that such statements have the same meaning for all EU consumers.

To require operators to provide such statements on a mandatory basis would not be necessary to ensure consumer protection, given that Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011(2) requires, for all foods, the mandatory provision of information on the presence of substances known for their ability to trigger allergic reactions or intolerances (including cereals containing gluten and products thereof) whenever they are used in foods as an ingredient. In order to adequately inform consumers and avoid any confusion, Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 requires that such information must be provided in a language easily understood by consumers in the Member States where the food is marketed and must be emphasised on food labels through a typeset that clearly distinguishes it from the rest of the list of ingredients.

The use of ‘gluten-free’ logos is not harmonised at EU level. The Commission has no information on the use of such logos at national level or whether their use positively influences consumer behaviour, for example by allowing consumers to identify gluten-free products more easily. For this reason, the Commission does not currently intend to harmonise the use of such logos in the EU.

1) OJ L 16, 21.1.2009, p. 3. Regulation (EC) No 41/2009 will be replaced on 20.7.2016 by Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 (OJ L 228, 31.7.2014, p. 5).
(2) OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 18.

(Source: European Parliament)