EU developments could play role in defining international trends

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 28th May 2008

Europe is fast becoming the world’s leading exporter of food regulation as authorities in many countries increasingly look for models on which to base their legislation, a food policy expert has said.

Speaking at the Vitafoods International Discussion Forum in Geneva on Thursday 8 May, Simon Pettman said that, with international regulators now more closely monitoring developments in the EU, ‘getting it right’ in Europe is essential. Mr Pettman, Director of international food and nutrition policy consultancy EAS, cited the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation and the Commission’s new labelling proposal as good examples.

“Good regulation is easy to enforce,” Mr Pettman said. “Poor regulation is often unenforceable. Regulators are out there looking for answers, and much of the future of this sector rests on providing workable advice and solutions. The food sector has to get better at sharing information, science and ideas. Only if we are sharing globally, will we come up with solutions to be presented to these regulatory bodies.”

The forum highlighted the top five regulatory areas of concern in Europe:

– the pending 2010 list of approved nutrition and health claims

– the setting of maximum levels of vitamins and minerals

– the imminent Commission paper on the future of botanical ingredients and other substances

– revision of the novel foods regulation, and the new labelling proposal, with key issues being mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling and;

– the surprisingly large new minimum 3mm font size.

Expect Australian regulators to be monitoring developments in the EU very closely as changes to legislation in Australia are often made in the wake of similar changes in Europe or the US.