Companies wanting to launch nutritional products in a harmonised EU market could wait longer than initially estimated as the different Member State approaches continue to be thrashed out, an industry insider has said.
Efi Leontopoulou, Manager of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at Brussels food law consultancy EAS, said that with a number of rules still under development for EU harmonisation – such as maximum levels of vitamins and minerals, use of herbals and other bioactive substances in food supplements – the harmonisation process still has a long way to go.
Commenting on observations made during the drafting of EAS’ latest report ‘Marketing Food Supplements, Fortified and Functional Foods in Europe: Legislation and Practice 2008’, Ms Leontopoulou said that the vastly different national approaches currently in place will continue to impact on companies launching their products onto the EU marketplace, and stressed the strategic importance of the evolving regulatory climate in non-EU countries such as Russia and Turkey, which she described as “two complex but very promising markets for the food industry”.
“Bulgaria and Romania have recently joined the EU and this creates new market opportunities but also more challenges in terms of the harmonisation process,” Ms Leontopoulou said in a six-minute podcast interview. “The exercise is a most challenging practice at the moment and should not be underestimated – remember harmonisation on claims alone took more than 30 years.”
“Working with all of these different national legislations in Europe can be quite a minefield for companies,” she added, “from issues such as the addition of nutrients to foods and the types of ingredients permitted in countries, to details on new product notification requirements and national approaches towards derogations for vitamins and minerals.”
The EAS report, which will be available next month, is an easy-to-follow guide for the nutritional product industry, detailing the European and national regulations for food supplements and fortified foods in all 27 EU Member States as well as Norway, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey.
The publication – considered by many to be an essential guide to EU regulation – has been compiled by experts involved in the development and modification of European legislation. First published in 1998, it is updated every two to three years, giving an overview of rules for different food categories, and analysing in detail the national and EU rules for food supplements, fortified foods and claims.
It also covers EU rules on claims – transition periods, business impact and national approaches, details on new product notification requirements, international initiatives and national approaches towards maximum/minimum levels for vitamins and minerals, the latest developments and discussions on novel foods, rules for GMO and allergen labelling, traditional herbal medicines and new rules on additives/flavourings and enzymes.
Ms Leontopoulou said: “There are a number of aspects that are vital for industry to know and understand, and our report gives an explanation of the importance and the business impact of current and future legislation based on professional assessment – basically it is an all-in-one source for diverse nutritional products industrial sectors.”
To find out more about the EAS report ‘Marketing Food Supplements, Fortified and Functional Foods in Europe: Legislation and Practice 2008’ or to listen to the full six-minute podcast interview visit www.eas.eu.
EAS Europe specialises in European and international regulation on food and nutritional products. It provides companies with regulatory and strategic advice for the marketing and approval of their products in Europe. EAS Europe also advises governments, trade associations and companies on the impact of European and global policy.