IADSA briefs

CL-citruline becomes a general food material
Earlier this year, L-Citruline was classified as a "Non-drug", and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced their approval for its use as a general food material, but not as a food additive. A daily maximum limit was not decided.

As a result of this decision, Japanese manufacturers are now using L-Citruline manufactured in Japan or China, and finished products to maintain healthy blood pressure levels and fight fatigue will soon be launched.

New carbon-based packaging tax proposed
As part of its government's plan to double recycling rates by 2012, the Netherlands is to launch a carbon-based packaging tax, based on the estimated CO2 emissions produced in making particular packaging.

The new tax, due to be implemented in January 2008, has been agreed between the Netherlands environment ministry, local authorities and industry. According to the terms of the proposal, producers and importers will be obliged to pay tax on the packaging materials they use, including glass, aluminum, plastics, paper, etc. The proceeds will be used to establish a fund to help reducing waste throughout the country.

Other substances and nutrients
The French decree on food supplements of March 2006 enforces the principle of a positive list of other substances and nutrients, with the application of the principle of mutual recognition.

The positive list will come into force in two steps:

  • individual authorizations for companies following notifications of food supplements marketed in France
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  • one year later, an official text (arr?t?) which consolidates all individual authorisations in a general authorisation.
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The French authorities have put out for consultation a first proposal for an arr?te, taking in account authorisations received from March to August 2006. However, this first consultation represents only 3,000 notifications from a total of 11,000 notifications received by September 2007.

The proposal has been notified under Regulation 20026/1925/EC on the addition of nutrients and of other substances to foods. It will be presented to EU Member States during the October meeting of the Standing Committee. SDCA has prepared its initial observations and a Working Party is planned for November to progress the issue.

United Kingdom
Initial opinion on glucosamine application
Last year the Food Standards Agency consulted on an application to use glucosamine hydrocholoride in a range of foods, including sports drinks.

The initial assessment was carried out by FSA's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes who have concluded that further assessment is required, comment should be invited from other EU countries and that a decision on the authorisation of the novel food ingredient should be taken once European Food Safety Authority advice is available.

The glucosamine that is the subject of this application is sourced from a fungus, Aspergillus niger. All other known commercial glucosamine products are derived from shellfish.

Legal opinion on maximum levels
Recently, the UK trade association, The Health Food Manufacturers' Association, commissioned a leading European food lawyer to provide a series of legal opinions on setting maximum levels for food supplements in the European Union. In particular his views were sought on the viability of the 'two-tier' system favoured by the UK Food Standards Agency whereby the lower levels are set by the European Commission but Member States are also able to add their own higher levels, subject to appropriate labelling.

The lawyer's advice was that a two tier system based on Member State discretion was not tenable — however his opinion was that a two-tier system harmonised throughout the EU, with the upper tier utilising 'conditions of use'-based advisory statements, would meet all relevant legal criteria, notably risk analysis, food safety, proportionality, subsidiarity and equal treatment.

A detailed summary of these opinions has been reviewed by FSA lawyers and the UK Cabinet Office and has now been passed to the European Commission for consideration.

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