On 6 May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (“EFSA”) published its updated safety assessment on titanium dioxide as a food additive (E171). EFSA examined new evidence on nanoparticles and found that there was uncertainty about E171’s ability to accumulate in the body and damage genetic material in cells; i.e. genotoxicity. The agency could not calculate an Acceptable Daily Intake (“ADI”), nor could it determine a safe cut-off value for particle size and distribution. On that basis, it could not confirm the safety of E171 in food. However, since it found no evidence of acute toxicity, an immediate ban is not warranted. France previously initiated a national ban in 2019/2020; following EFSA’s revised opinion, the EU is likely to adopt an EU-wide ban early 2022. In this blog, we briefly review the planned EU-level response and the developments in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.
Food & Beverage
Proposed Changes to UK Allergen Labelling Law
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (“DEFRA”) has announced a consultation regarding proposed changes to allergen labelling laws for food prepacked for direct sale in the UK.
This follows the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in July 2016, which was the result of an allergic reaction after consuming a baguette from Pret a Manger that contained sesame seeds. The coroner’s inquest in September 2018 found that Pret’s allergen labelling system was “inadequate”, as the allergen stickers on food display units (which instructed consumers to ask staff for details of allergens) were not sufficiently visible. In response, Environment Secretary Michael Gove promised an overhaul of allergen labelling law to avoid such incidents in the future. The current consultation follows Gove’s meeting with retailers, specialists and allergy groups in December 2018.
Currently, allergen labelling in the UK is covered by the Food Information Regulation 1169/2011 (“Food Information Regulation”). The Food Information Regulation states that prepacked food must include allergen information either on the packaging or an attached label. Food business operators (“FBOs”) also have to provide allergen information for non-prepackaged food (i.e., food offered for sale without prepackaging, or packed on sales premises at the consumer’s request or prepacked for direct sale).
However, FBOs can provide allergen information for non-prepackaged food by any means they choose. The Regulation leaves it open to Member States to impose stricter allergen labelling measures. Some Member States have taken a more restrictive approach. In France, for example, allergen information for non-prepacked food must be in writing, on the food itself or close to it, in a way that excludes any uncertainty. In Ireland, all allergen information must be provided to consumers in writing, at the point of presentation, sale or supply. In contrast, the UK gave FBOs more freedom, allowing them to make allergen information for non-prepacked food available by any means they choose, including orally.…
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The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016: An Example of Poor Drafting and Unintended Consequences for Food?
The UK has enacted new legislation to address the issue of so-called ‘legal highs’ following a number of cases of paranoia, seizures, hospitalisation and even death after consumption of certain psychoactive substances. The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (the “Act”) was granted Royal Assent on 28 January 2016. It is expected to come into force on 6 April 2016. The Act makes it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, possess in a custodial institution, import or export psychoactive substances.
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EU Proposes a Scrutiny Procedure for High-Risk Devices
This post originally appeared on our sister blog, InsideMedicalDevices.
Following recent developments regarding breast implants and metal-on-metal hip joint replacements, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution calling for safer medical devices and the introduction of a marketing authorization system for high-risk devices. While the Commission has not endorsed the EP’s resolution for a premarket authorization system in its Proposal for a new EU medical devices’ regulation, described in our previous post, it still had to take into account the strong call from the public for safer and more strictly controlled medical devices. As a result of this political imperative, the Commission included in Article 44 of its Proposal a so-called “scrutiny procedure.” Like the rest of the Proposal, the scrutiny procedure would become law if adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. Our earlier post on the legislative process describes this procedure in more detail.
Under the scrutiny procedure, any new applications for conformity assessment of high-risk devices (with the exception of applications to supplement or renew existing certificates) would now possibly be subject to a “second look” by the Medical Devices Coordination Group (MDCG). This newly created expert committee would be composed of Member State officials and chaired by the European Commission. The Commission will probably also develop some centralized scientific and technical expertise that will allow it to be more directly involved in the assessment of specific products.
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The European Commission Proposes New Requirements on Biofuels Marketed in Europe
Originally published as Covington E-Alert on October 23, 2012
On October 17, 2012, the European Commission presented a proposal that would limit the consumption of food crop biofuels and bioliquids in Europe.1 The proposal is intended to respond to allegations that food crop biofuels and bioliquids result in higher world food prices and indirect land…
European Commission Adopts List of General Health Claims
Originally published as Covinton E-Alert on May 25, 2012
On 16 May 2012, the European Commission adopted the much delayed list of permitted general health claims (Permitted List) for foods after scrutiny of the list by the European Parliament and the Council ended on 27 April 2012. The Permitted List contains just 222 health claims…
REACH and Food Packaging
Article originally published in the Food Packaging Bulletin, January 2010
As with virtually all goods manufactured in, or imported into, the European Economic AreaI, food packaging is subject to the stringent requirements of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (the so-called “REACH Regulation”)II. Indeed, while substances “used in…