Parties divided over health claim regulation

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Related tags: European union, European parliament

Environment Committee at Europe's Parliament votes to delete
controversial article four on nutrient profiles and redraft article
11, in proposed rules for nutrition and health claims.

This was the second vote this week on article four. On Tuesday, the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) also voted to delete it from the Stubb opinion, but in that instance voting followed party lines, with the 19 votes for deletion from EPP (Christian-Democrats) and ALDE (Liberals) and the 14 votes against deletion from the PES (Socialists) and Greens.

Yesterday, however, some members of ALDE voted against deletion from the Poli Bortone opinion - but not enough to influence the main outcome, with 29 votes for deletion and 24 votes against.

Thursday's vote means that all three committees drafting an opinion on the proposed regulation (the third being the Industry Committee which voted on the Neibler opinion on 17 March) want to see article four deleted. Their adopted reports will be sent to the European Parliament (EP) plenary for a final vote in plenary on 25-26 May.

However EPP and ALDE may not convinced that they will be able to obtain the same result then as they have up until now.

"It appears that several MEPs from all parties are already working on compromise amendments on article four to be submitted to a vote in the plenary,"​ said Miguel Fernandes da Silva, adviser to the European Advisory Services, told

Article 11, the other sticking point in the proposal, was completely redrafted by ENVI following the adoption of several amendments: all the claims listed in the article (including psychological and behavioural claims, slimming and weight control claims and claims referring to charities or doctors) can now be made, as long as they are scientifically substantiated.

But the most surprising part of yesterday's proceedings, said da Silva, concerned the Annex of the proposal, which lists all the nutrition claims that products will be allowed to bear.

While the IMCO judged that the list was too restrictive in the form that had been proposed by the Commission and voted to adopt a list of new claims, just two days later the ENVI committee accepted only one of the proposed amendments - high energy.

"This could probably be explained by the fact that some MEPs felt that, as they are not nutritionists, they are not qualified to determine what nutrition claims should be allowed or not,"​ said da Silva.

He thinks it is likely that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will be asked to give an opinion on the proposed nutrition claims.

Related topics: Policy

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