EU's nutrient profiling scheme faces delays

The European Commission's proposal for a nutrient profiling scheme looks set to be delayed until after the new parliamentary elections, according the Brussels-based food and nutrition policy consultancy EAS.

Contrary to previous indications, the Commission did not present the proposal for a vote at the 27 March Standing Committee on General Food Law meeting.

The scheme is part of the EU's Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, and aims to determine which food products will be able to bear nutrition and health claims. According to the Regulation, a nutrient profiling system was required to be adopted by 19 January this year, but due to a lack of consensus on various issues, the system has not yet been adopted.

EAS adviser Miguel da Silva said that as a result, the final adoption of the profiling system would not now be possible before the June European Parliament elections. The final system must be approved by the Parliament under a regulatory procedure with scrutiny, which will only be possible from September 2009 when the new legislature starts is activities.

"It now seems more likely that the adoption will only take place by the end of 2009 or even early in 2010," said Da Silva. "Since this is a highly complex issue, in our view this is a positive delay as it will allow more time for the regulators to carefully consider the overall impact of the system being developed on the food industry."

He continued: "We understand the interservice consultation within the Commission on the latest draft proposal raised a wide number of problematic issues, which are now being dealt with. At this stage, it is very difficult to know the extent of the changes that will be made to the latest draft but we understand these would be quite significant."

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