Thank God it’s Friday! Quick News from the food world (Week 43)

Here’s my article’s selection of the week:

EU

– Author: EU health claims laws cannot be bent for botanicals, by Bert Schwitters, on nutraingredients.com: nutrition author, blogger and harsh critic of the EU’s health claim laws, Bert Schwitters, says any attempt to create separate rules for more than 1500 on-hold botanical claim applications is doomed to failure in this guest article;

– Should energy drinks be age-restricted like alcohol? WHO official asks in report, by Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+, on nutraingredients.com: energy drink consumption among young people, particularly in connection with alcohol, presents a significant public health concern that warrants further research and regulation, according to a report authored by World Health Organisation (WHO) officials.

– GM regulations hold back innovation, say UK researchers, by Caroline Scott-Thomas+, on foodnavigator.com: current European restrictions on genetically modified (GM) crops could hold back crop innovation needed to ensure food security, claims a UK government-funded research body.

CHINA

– Amidst Public Controversy China Debates GMO Development, by John Balzano, on Forbes: an interesting article about China’s approach to GMOs and the doubts between treating GMOs like any other food and regulating them in a more specific way;

– China lifts 2013 ban on Fonterra infant formula ingredients, by Mark Astley+ , on dairyreporter.com: China has lifted its ban on the import of Fonterra two infant formula ingredients, more than a year after it was implemented in the midst of the 2013 botulism scare.

INDIA

– HC bans import of food additive Allura Red, on business-standard.com: the High  banned import of food additive Allura Red AC, also a colouring agent, after the country’s food safety authority admitted it was a prohibited chemical.

TAIWAN

 In pics: Two months of food scandals rocks Taiwan, by RJ Whitehead, on foodproductiondaily.com: recent reports that international furniture retailer Ikea has been using expired milk in its ice cream is the latest scandal to rock Taiwan. We take a look at a tense two months for food authorities and consumers as some of the island’s worst abuses came to light.

– New rules in Kaohsiung will give whistleblowers handsome cash reward, on focustaiwan.tw: Kaohsiung’s city council amended municipal food safety rules to offer whistleblowers 60 percent of fines levied on convicted companies — the highest cash award offered by any jurisdiction in Taiwan.

USA

– Quick fixes could quell rising tide of undeclared allergen food recalls, by Elizabeth Crawford, on foodnavigator-usa.com: simple changes in how food manufacturers handle and trace ingredients, packages and labels at production facilities could reduce dramatically the number of recalls due to undeclared allergens, which make up the vast majority of food recalls, according to FDA.

– Appeals Court Won’t Tamper With COOL, But Keeping It Could Be Costly, on foodsafetynews.coma decision by the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stated that, unless the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue, domestic courts are fine with U.S. Department of Agriculture rules that require producers to keep track and report on the label on the birthplace, residence, and location at passing for each hunk of meat sold at retail in the U.S. regardless of the burden or cost.

– Report: Bait-and-Switch Tactics Found in One-Third of U.S. Shrimp Sales, on foodsafetynews.com: in the only known U.S. study using DNA testing on retail and restaurant shrimp, Oceana confirmed that 30 percent of the 143 products tested from 111 grocery stores and restaurants were misrepresented. It also found that consumers are often provided with little information about the shrimp they purchase, including where and how it was caught or farmed, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to make informed choices.

WHO – NUTRITION LABELLING

– WHO calls for standardised nutrition labelling, by Caroline Scott-Thomas+, on dairyreporter.com: the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a more unified approach to front-of-pack nutrition labelling.

FVO report – India – Contaminants and residues

This report describes the outcome of a Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) audit in India, carried out from 3 to 14 March 2014, as part of the published programme of FVO audits.

The objective of the audit was to evaluate the performance of competent authorities and other officially authorised entities in their implementation of official controls concerning residues and contaminants in live animals and animal products, in order to assess whether these controls offer adequate assurance that the products and animals concerned, eligible for export to the European Union (EU) do not contain residues of veterinary medicinal products, pesticides and contaminants at concentrations in excess of EU maximum limits. Since the authorisation, distribution and use of veterinary medicinal products and feed additives have an impact on the monitoring of residues, the national rules governing the control systems in these areas were also part of the audit. In addition, attention was paid to examining the implementation of corrective actions promised in response to recommendations made in the report of the previous FVO residues audit in India (DG(SANCO)/2011/8861 MR-Final) in May 2011.

Overall, it is concluded that guarantees provided by the residue control system for aquaculture products in India are, with some exceptions, broadly equivalent to those foreseen by EU legislation. The residue monitoring plan is implemented in accordance with planned arrangements and in line with EU rules and meets minimum requirements laid down in EU legislation (for testing of aquaculture shrimp but not finfish). However a relatively narrow range of substances is tested for and no account is taken of the range of substances actually used in fish and shrimp production in the country. As such, guarantees on the residues status of aquaculture products rely to a large extent on the additional pre-harvest and pre-export testing programmes in place and these mitigate to a certain extent the long-standing deficiencies in official controls on farms, and in particular, an almost total absence of official controls on the use of veterinary medicinal products. Nevertheless, the relatively narrow range of substances tested for in those additional programmes also weakens the reliability of those guarantees. With regard to the follow-up of non-compliant results, some improvements have been noted relative to 2011 (for example progress made on the registration of farms), nevertheless, it remains the case that follow-up at primary producer level to identify the root cause of the non compliance is ‘delegated’ almost fully to export establishments which is not in line with EU requirements.

Concerning laboratories, improvements in performance have been noted relative to 2011, though certain deficiencies in quality control and ensuring the analytical integrity of samples have the potential to undermine the effectiveness of the residue monitoring plan.

With regard to veterinary medicinal products, the system for authorisation of, and controls on veterinary medicinal products is deficient in many respects compared to the EU system. Improvements have been made relative to 2011 (introduction of labelling legislation) however, the many non-compliances identified by the audit team in this respect and overall poor awareness and enforcement of the legislation collectively weaken the effectiveness of the residue control system.