QeA to EU Commission – Allergy to apples ?!

In EU, as well as in USA and other countries with different allergens requirements (e.g. Japan), the choice of the legislator is to specifically consider as “allergens” – for labeling purposes – only the so called “major allergens”: substances which account for the major % of food allergies found in the local population. 

It could happen that some allergies are not considered (think of garlic, strawberries…) by the legislator, so it is up to the consumer to check the ingredient list (where everything should be declared).

Those evaluations could nonetheless change in time, as explained by the EU Commission.

Question for written answer to the Commission

Tomáš Zdechovský (PPE) – 15th June 2016

Subject: Allergy to apples

Allergy to apples is affecting more and more people. It is an allergy which can manifest itself at any age.

The most common symptoms include tingling lips and itching or sore throat, as well as swelling or sneezing. A research project called SAFE was conducted across Europe to explore the occurrence of combined apple-pollen allergies. The research shows that the new varieties of apple have a greater impact on those affected.

The research also suggests that there is a geographical division between south and north, and that there are two specific types of apple allergy. In the north there are people allergic to raw apple pulp, while people from the south are allergic to the skin in all of its forms, whether raw or cooked.

The research shows that the form the allergy takes is influenced not only by the amount of the allergen in the apple, but also by the variety of apple and the storage conditions.

Has the Commission conducted any research into apple allergy and its impact on European consumers or is it planning to conduct such a research?

How is the EU protecting its consumers against this allergy?

Answer given by  Mr Moedas on behalf of the Commission – 1st September 2016

Research on allergies has been supported by the European Commission since the 5th Framework Programme, when the Safe project was funded. Currently, five projects are dealing with allergies to apples (Safe, Fast, Caramel, iFAAM, Europrevall) with total EU funding of more than EUR 28 million. Horizon 2020 also offers the possibility to receive funding to carry out research on apple allergy (see Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Participant Portal).

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 requires, for all food, the mandatory provision of information on the presence of allergens whenever they are used in food as an ingredient. It also requires that such information must be emphasised on food labels through a typeset that clearly distinguishes it from the rest of the list of ingredients. The EU list of allergens is provided in its Annex II and has been established on the basis of a scientific opinion adopted by the European Food Safety Authority. According to this, the substances of Annex II are considered as part of the most common food allergens and there is ample evidence to support their inclusion into the list.

The regulation foresees a systematic re-examination of the allergen list and, when necessary, it is updated on the basis of the most recent scientific knowledge. At this stage, there are no available scientific data to support the inclusion of apples into the allergen list.

Nevertheless, when apple has been used as an ingredient in food, its present products, used in the production or preparation of food and still present in the finished product, must be stated in the list of ingredients

(Source: EU Parliament)

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Organic labeling and counterfeiting

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Nicola Caputo (S&D)

3rd September 2014

Subject:  Labelling of organic foods and counterfeit products

As demand for organic and protected geographical indication (PGI) products rises dramatically, the quantity of fraudulent products on the market is rising with it: hundreds of products are being passed off as organic foods subject to rigorous checks but have in fact been falsely labelled and produced with complete disregard for the rules, using harmful pesticides, non-comestible liquids or even substances intended for use in animal feed.

1. How does the Commission intend to boost organic food production in an effort to satisfy demand without sacrificing quality?

2. In the context of the EU proposal on the labelling of organic products, what monitoring systems could be used to clamp down on counterfeit foods?

3. How does the Commission plan to tackle the increasing use of e-commerce to export ‘fake organic’ products quickly and on a huge scale, and to import counterfeit products?

Answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission – 20th October 2014

1. The Common agricultural policy (CAP) includes measures to support organic production. From 2015, Member States will have to use 30% of direct payments to finance payments to farmers for sustainable agricultural practices that are beneficial for climate and environment. The practices of an organic farmer will be considered per se as complying with these so-called greening payments. Rural development framework includes opportunities to support increase of organic production, as a specific measure provides for Member States to support farmers converting to, or maintaining, organic production practices. The School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme (SFVS) and the School Milk Scheme (SMS) present opportunities for organic farmers.

Research and innovation has a role to play in development of EU organics, and to this end the action plan for the future of Organic Production in the European Union(1) foresees actions under Horizon 2020 to support research and innovation. The European Innovation Partnership for agriculture will also foster the exchange of innovative methods and research results and make the link between science and practice.

2. The proposal allocates a budget for technical assistance measures by the Commission so as to implement a system of electronic certification, both for products imported and for EU operators. This will make forgery and fraud, currently found in paper documents, more difficult and will enhance traceability and control.

3. As part of its Action Plan1 the Commission will assist Member States in developing and implementing an organic fraud prevention policy, through targeted workshops to share good practices and the development of compendia/casebook of cases.

(1) COM(2014)179 final ; http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/documents/eu-policy/european-action-plan/act_en.pdf

(Source: European Parliament website)