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MEPs oppose ‘weak’ nano definition

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

14-Feb-2014

MEPs have opposed a measure that would have exempted nano-sized food additives from labelling if they are already in common use.

In a vote passed by 31 votes to 23, with two abstentions, food safety committee members rejected the proposed regulation, as labelling would not have applied to food additives that were already on the market.

The Commission has proposed that new nano-scale additives would be designated by the word ‘nano’ in brackets in ingredients lists. However, it said labelling existing nano-scale ingredients in the same way would be irrelevant, and “may confuse the consumers as it may suggest that those additives are new while in reality they have been used in foods in that form for decades”.

MEP Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, SV), who put forward Wednesday’s resolution, said: “The EP has repeatedly called for a proper nano-labelling and it is highly surprising that the Commission even tried to weaken what has been decided by both Parliament and the Council. Consumers have the right to know and make their own choices, they do not want the Commission to do that for them.”

The parliamentary committee also rejected the Commission’s definition of ‘engineered nanomaterials’, saying it was “too narrow to properly protect public right to information”.

The Commission’s recommended definition for a nanomaterial is a “natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50% or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm - 100 nm”.

However, MEPs sided with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommendation that a threshold of 10% would be more appropriate.

The issue is due to be decided at a full House vote in Strasbourg later this month.

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