EU Seeks Greater Food Fortification Control

Fortifying foods with ingredients such as taurine, guarana, caffeine and St John's wort will be severely curtailed or banned outright under proposed new European food additives legislation.

Quinine, glucuronolactone, aristolochic acid, nicotine and ephedrine are other additives that could encounter severe restrictions when the draft regulation becomes law in an estimated two to three years' time.

Both foods and food supplements will come under the proposal's jurisdiction, which also proposes a ban on vitamin and mineral fortification of beverages containing more than 1.2 per cent alcohol.

National mandatory fortification policies won't be affected and products will have two years to comply once the proposal is law.

The popular energy drink Red Bull is one product that may be affected by the legislation as it contains both caffeine (likely to be restricted in products such as soft drinks) and taurine (its safety is under EU scrutiny).

"We have serious concerns regarding the 'other substances' added to the draft regulation," said Daniela Muchna, Red Bull's regulatory affairs manager at the company's Austrian headquarters. "Energy drinks containing taurine and glucuronolactone have been available for more than 40 years in Japan and more than 15 years in Europe."

She suggested the European Food Safety Authority's ingredient safety appraisal process was a problem area because those ingredients that haven't had a verdict cast upon them within three years will be banned. "It seems inappropriate that a delay in the evaluation could lead to the prohibition of foodstuffs in the EC which are safe, exported from the EC to other countries such as the US, Australia and Switzerland in great amounts and which are otherwise consumed freely worldwide."

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