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)

Written QeA to EU Commission – Performance-Enhancing Substances in Foods for Sportspeople

Question for written answer to the Commission

Alain Cadec (PPE) – 15 April 2015

Subject: Foods for sportspeople

All the EU Member States have agreed to take the steps required to enforce the international agreements concluded in cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency, the aim of which is to ensure that foodstuffs and supplements intended for sportspeople are completely free from performance-enhancing substances.

The lack of harmonisation at EU level in this area has meant that Member States have taken a range of approaches when establishing quality assurance systems designed to ensure that foods intended for sportspeople do not contain performance-enhancing substances. This is particularly true when it comes to labelling. The result has been a proliferation of standards and logos, and confusion for consumers.

Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 requires the Commission to submit a report to Parliament and the Council by 20 July 2015 on the advisability of introducing specific provisions relating to food intended for sportspeople.

Will this report cover the issue of ensuring that foods intended for sportspeople are free from performance-enhancing substances? Does the Commission intend to stress the need for the provisions concerning dietary requirements and those relating to performance-enhancing drugs to be consistent?

Given the current confusion, action should be taken to ensure that foods intended for sports people do not contain any performance-enhancing substances.

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 15 June 2015

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(1) requires the Commission, after consulting the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), to present to the European Parliament and to the Council a report on the necessity, if any, of provisions for food intended for sportspeople. Such a report may, if necessary, be accompanied by an appropriate legislative proposal. As specified in Recital 33 of that regulation, the main focus of the report should be whether provisions are necessary to ensure the protection of consumers.

In preparation of the report, the Commission has requested an external contractor to carry out a study for gathering relevant information, among others, about the current market of food intended for sportspeople. This exercise includes extensive consultation of relevant stakeholders and competent authorities of the Member States. On the basis of the study and after having consulted EFSA, the Commission will present its report as requested by Regulation (EU) No 609/2013. The outcome of the report cannot at the moment be anticipated.

(1) OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 35.

(Source: EU Parliament)