NutraIngredients.com reported yesterday that the health and nutrition claims and food fortification regulations would not be published in the official journal of the European Community until March/April 2007, when they would appear with their respective amendments relating to comitology procedure.
However according to new information, the Commission has decided not to wait for the Parliament to adopt the amendment - now expected to take place in mid-February - but publication of the two regulations will go ahead this month as originally planned.
This means that the regulations will enter into force in January 2007. The amendments will be published in the journal later in the year.
The amendments are required as a result of a new comitology procedure introduced in July. The comitology procedure relates to enacting periods or amendments to agreed legislation that sketched out in the main body of the text, to be drawn up in full at a later date.
It was realised just prior to planned adoption in September that the health claims regulation included the old one. The decision was made in October to go ahead and adopt the regulation, with an amendment as soon as possible.
Miguel da Silva, advisor at European Advisory Services, told NutraIngredients.com that the only amendment currently in the pipeline relates to the comitology procedure. But he expects further amendments will be required.
For instance, just prior to adoption a new category of claims was introduced by Parliament (mainly with the support of the Socialists and the Greens) relating to the growth and development of children. Since they are considered as disease reduction claims, they would need to go through the full approvals process.
But it seems that due consideration was not given to exactly how these claims would be implemented. For example, what happens with existing claims? What should be the transition period likely to be?
Moreover, growth and development of children claims have not been fully defined, said Da Silva. It is not clear whether they apply to babies - and if so do they relate to PARNUTS regulations (food for particular nutritional uses), under which presently infant formula falls.
To solve the questions the Council will have to consult with Member States. One suggestion is that the issues could be solved in interpreting guidelines, but such guidelines do not carry legal weight.
Da Silva said that when regulations prove contentious, as in the case of health and nutrition claims, it is more likely that there will be omissions, or elements will be included that have not been properly thought out.