20 March 2007 - Opportunities and challenges lie ahead for international food companies looking to enter the current European Union food market, an industry consultant has said.
Speaking at the US Nutracon Conference earlier this month, EAS scientific and regulatory affairs manager Efi Leontopoulou highlighted both questions and solutions currently on the table in the marketing of products in the European Union (EU). Discussing the current level of harmonisation for EU food legislation, she explained how companies could find themselves either covered by a harmonised EU legislation or subject to 27 different EU Member State national laws, depending on the product they wish to market.
“The past four years have been an intensive period of regulatory change for nutritional products in the European Union”, said Mrs Leontopoulou. “The main question we receive from many food manufacturers trying to market their products in the EU is whether their products must comply with a harmonised EU legislation or with 27 different national approaches. The answer is somewhere in-between. It is important for the food industry crossing into the EU to understand that on certain issues they will have to knock on the 27 different doors of the EU Member States. A major effort for harmonisation, however, is underway.”
The recent adoption of new EU Regulations on food claims and on fortified foods together with harmonised food supplement rules, has at one level brought harmonisation for parts of EU food law, but a wide range of aspects still need to be harmonised to give the food industry the opportunity to enter the EU with a pan- EU formulation.
Leontopoulou highlighted the challenges posed by the new regulatory frameworks and issues that food companies will face when developing strategies for the marketing of their products across Europe, such as novel food status, product formulation, health claims approval, correct labelling and product notification or authorisation requirements.
She said: “Understanding which ingredients are permitted at which levels and where can be complicated if the legislation is not harmonised, as can understanding the requirements in different EU Member States for entering the market – in most cases it is not as clear-cut as a simple label submission.”
European Advisory Services (EAS) specialises in European and international regulation on food and nutritional products. EAS provides companies with regulatory and strategic advice for the marketing and approval of their products in Europe.
EAS also advises governments, trade associations and companies on the impact of European and global policy. For more information contact Efi Leontopoulou, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager, EAS, 50 Rue de l’Association, 1000 Brussels, tel: +32 2 218 14 70, fax: +32 2 219 73 42, or visit www.eas.be.