European Parliament makes new rules for baby food, special diet foods and low-calorie foods

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th June 2013

Rules on the labelling and content of baby milks and foods for special medical purposes will be better defined in order to “protect consumers and distinguish more clearly between foods for normal consumption and foods for specific groups” under legislation passed on Tuesday 11 June 2013. The new rules also cover some low-calorie diets.

The new legislation simplifies and clarifies the rules on the labelling and the composition of infant formula and follow-on formula (for babies between six and 10 months), processed cereal-based food, food for special medical purposes and total diet replacement food for weight control.

The new rules also include an exclusive list of substances such as vitamins and minerals that can be added to these foods. The European Parliament has also asked the European Commission to ensure that pesticide residues in products intended for these consumer groups “are reduced to a minimum”.

“Infants, young children and seriously ill people are clearly not consumers like any others and it is our duty as legislator to fix stricter rules to govern, for example, the composition and labelling of foodstuffs intended for them,” said Frederique Ries, a Belgian member of the ALDE group which is responsible for steering the legislation through Parliament. “On the other hand, it is also important to establish order in the jungle of food products, by abolishing the concept of dietetic food cannibalised by marketing tools,” he said.

Baby milk labels should “not discourage breast-feeding”

According to the new rules, the labelling, presentation and advertising of infant formula and the labelling of follow-on formula must not “include pictures of infants, or other pictures or text which may idealise the use of such formula” in order “not to discourage breast-feeding”.

However, graphic representations intended for easy identification of the formula and for illustrating methods of preparation will still be permitted.

The European Parliament has asked the European Commission to evaluate whether “growing-up milks” intended for toddlers really have “any nutritional benefits when compared to a normal diet for a child who is being weaned”. The Commission has also been asked to assess whether legislation is needed for food intended for athletes.