Brussels Bulletin: Denmark first to ban PFAS in food packaging

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Brussels Bulletin: Denmark first to ban PFAS in food packaging

Related tags Brussels Packaging Glyphosate

In this edition of the Brussels Bulletin, Denmark moves to ban PFAS chemicals from food packaging, a European Citizens’ Initiative calls for the introduction of a minimum price on CO₂ emissions, and Germany prohibits glyphosate.

Denmark is set to become the first country to ban per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals from food packaging.

PFAS is used in paper and cardboard to repel water and grease and comes into contact with food.

However, in a ban proposal issued by Denmark’s Veterinary and Food Administration, Food Minister Mogens Jensen said he wishes to ban the chemical from July 2020.

“I do not want to accept the risk of harmful fluorinated substances migrating from the packaging and into our food. These substances represent such a health problem that we can longer wait for the EU,” ​said Jensen.

Further, the Minister noted the chemicals are ‘very different to break down in the environment’ and ‘accumulate in humans and animals’.

‘It is time that Ireland’s relationship with alcohol was addressed’

Ireland has submitted a draft regulation to the European Commission that aims to limit promotions that incentivise alcohol consumption.

The regulation covers the promotion and selling arrangement of alcohol products. As of 1 September 2020, Ireland is seeking to ban the sale of reduced price – or free of charge – alcohol.  

The draft is founded on the recognition that alcohol is ‘not an ordinary grocery product’. “It is time that Ireland’s relationship with alcohol

Ireland wants to limit promotions on alcoholic beverages ©GettyImages/Lordn

was addressed. Alcohol is a drug and one which has real risks and harms associated with it and as such, should not be a subject of promotional activity,” ​noted the government.

By restricting access to alcohol products through promotions or loyalty card programmes, the regulations align with the objectives of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018, which are to:

  • Reduce alcohol consumption to 9.1l of pure alcohol per person per annum by 2020;
  • Delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people;
  • Reduce the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol; and
  • Regulate the supply and price of alcohol in order to minimise the possibility and incidence of alcohol-related harm.

Germany to ban glyphosate in 2023

The glyphosate debate continues as the German government agrees to ban the controversial weedkiller in 2023.

The ban is part of an insect conservation programme from Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, Germany’s public international broadcaster, Deutsche Well (DW), reported.

The government plans to initially prohibit the use of glyphosate – first developed and marketed by US agribusiness giant Monsanto under the brand name Roundup – in domestic gardens and allotments, and near farmers’ fields.

Whether the use of glyphosate poses a health risk to humans is much debated. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), issued a report concluding that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.

Subsequent studies by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) concluded that there is not enough evidence to support the link between glyphosate and cancer risk.

In the absence of an EU-wide ban on the chemical, individual Member States are starting to take action. Austria has already banned the chemical, and in France, mayors are attempting to limit its use​ in areas less than 150m from residential homes.

What’s in a name? A lot, if it's ‘mozzarella’

The term 'mozzarella' can be used for free around the world ©GettyImages/svariophoto

A new protection for the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) has been established around the world.

And last week, the Consorzio Tutela Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) approved free use of the generic term ‘mozzarella’.

As part of the agreement, the coalition sent a joint letter to the European Commission, as well as to the US and Italian governments, requesting they both uphold the decision to protect the name Mozzarella di Bufala and the free use of the term ‘mozzarella’.

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) welcomed the agreement, saying that enforcing the GIs would mean US farmers wold need to label their cheese with unfamiliar names, and “impede the competition of US dairy products in global markets”.

A price for carbon to fight climate change

A European Citizens’ Initiative has requested the European Commission propose legislation to discourage the consumption of fossil fuels.

The legislation should also encourage energy saving and the use of renewable sources for fighting global warming and limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C, stated the group.

The Initiative’s scientific lead is Alberto Majocchi, professor of public finance at the University of Pavia, Italy. The Citizens’ Committee includes representatives from Science for Democracy, European Greens, among others.

The proposal, if approved, would introduce a minimum price on CO₂ emissions, starting from €50 per CO₂ tonne from 2020 up to €100 by 2025.

“At the same time, the proposal shall abolish the existing system of free allowances to EU polluters and introduce a border adjustment mechanism on non-EU imports, in such a way as to compensate for the lower pricing on CO₂ emissions in the exporting country.

The higher revenue deriving from carbon pricing shall be allocated to European policies that support energy saving and the use of renewable sources, and to the reduction of taxation on lower incomes,” ​noted the group.

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