Discussions surrounding the introduction of fees, which could apply to administrative services associated with a range of procedures from health claims to Novel Food applications are ongoing. The European Commission will ultimately approve EFSA’s recommendations.
Dr Ludger Fischer, food policy adviser at UEAPME, the organisation representing small and medium-sized and artisan manufacturers said its members would struggle with the fees.
“The fees would apply to each company that introduces new materials for its products, but it would not be appropriate for private enterprises to finance EFSA,” Fischer told FoodNavigator.
Difficult to administrate
In addition, he said a fee system would be difficult to administrate as so many companies would be involved in applications. Technically any company wanting, for example, to use a newly approved novel food might also be charged for administration, even if it did not submit the original application. “It would be very difficult to charge as it would be hard to see who would pay for what.”
He said the move would place the budgets of smaller companies under even greater strain, on top of the cash required for the research to substantiate applications.
Several fee systems are under debate. Options include waiving charges altogether, charging for each firm submitting a dossier for an application and only charging businesses if they request additional services or advice.
Cynthia Rousselot, director, European policy for EHPM, said: “We should have voluntary fees if a company needs specific advice.” In addition, she called for a 90% reduction in fees for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Keith Legge, chairman of the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM), said: “The European food supplements industry contains a very high proportion of SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises). Introducing fees that would be unreasonable and compulsory could dissuade these companies from submitting new applications.
He also questioned the appropriateness of applying fees to generic authorisations. "In the food supplement industry, the vast majority of applications are generic, which results in the granting of general approval to the benefit of all companies. The establishment of fees for such applications may infringe or distort unfair competition."