Food and drink industry leaders have attacked proposed reforms to the European Union's Novel Foods Regulation.
Trade body CIAA, which represents manufacturers across Europe, said it had "serious concerns" about the changes to the legislation, which controls the sale of new food products and ingredients across the EU.
The European Council reached agreement on a ‘Common Position' on changes to the regulation in the summer. But CIAA said it was unhappy an amendment introduced at that time could give an individual member state the opportunity to veto the general sale of an approved novel ingredient within its borders.
"CIAA has serious concerns about the provision in the draft Council Common Position on a safeguard clause which would allow member states to reject approved novel foods on the basis of a national classification as a medicine," the organisation said. "This goes against the principle of harmonisation at EU level, seriously undermines the smooth functioning of the internal market and introduces a high level of uncertainty for business."
It added: "Other elements, which are not yet clearly addressed, concern an alignment of novel food legislation and claims legislation. Given that both legislations are closely linked, it is important that policy-makers address such an alignment properly. In addition, from the analysis of the draft Common Position it is not obvious how dossiers submitted under the old regulation will be dealt with under the new regulation."
Adoption of the Council's official Common Position was still pending, and was not expected to take place before the end of this year, CIAA added.
Under the novel foods regime, any product which does not have a history of use in the EU prior to May 1997 must satisfy stringent safety criteria before it can be marketed, a process which can take years to complete.
The proposed shake-up is designed to simplify the process for those applying for approval, with a new centralised authorisation procedure set to replace the current system, under which a company has to make its application through a member state.
Other changes will include data protection provisions for newly-developed innovative food, under which the initial applicant would be authorised to market the novel food for five years before it becomes a generic foodstuff that can be produced and marketed by others.