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Food & Drink in the EU

Latest news on food policies in the European Union.

Food waste in the EU - factsheet
Around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU – around 20 per cent of all food produced, with associated costs estimated at EUR 143 billion. The EU is looking for every opportunity to prevent food waste and strengthen sustainability of the food system.

EFSA finalises guidance on novel and traditional food
The EU's food safety authority published Thursday guidance documents on novel food and traditional food from third countries to help ensure these foods are safe before marketing them in Europe.

EU-FORA - The EUropean FOod Risk Assessment Fellowship Programme
EFSA’s EU-FORA fellowship programme offers a unique opportunity to motivated early to mid-career scientists from EU national risk assessment authorities and any other Article 36 organisation to increase their knowledge and experience in food safety risk assessment. The programme’s principal focus lies on chemical and microbiological risk assessment. It is aimed at professionals from the following fields: molecular biology, biology, microbiology, veterinary/human medicine agronomy/agricultural science, biochemistry, chemistry, environmental science, food technology or toxicology.

MEPs call for limit on trans fats in food
The European Parliament voted Wednesday for mandatory limits on industrially-produced trans fats, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, infertility, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and obesity.

Trans fats
MEPs voted on 26 October on a resolution calling for limits on trans fats. These industrial artificially produced fats can be found in anything from fast food to bakery products, chips and margarine, however they can also prove bad for your health. Scientific research has linked heavy consumption of them with obesity, diabetes, infertility, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases.

Mediterranean research partnership to increase food and water sustainability
The Commission presented Wednesday a proposal for a Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) with the aim of developing novel solutions for sustainable water management and food production.

McDonald's wins Mac trade mark dispute at EU Court
The EU Court ruled Monday that the repute of McDonald’s trade marks makes it possible to prevent registration of trade marks which combine the prefix 'Mac' or 'Mc' with the name of a food or drink.

MEPs veto alertness claims for energy drinks
Euro-MPs voted on Thursday to veto European Commission plans to allow claims that sugary drinks and energy drinks containing caffeine boost 'alertness' or 'concentration'.

EU agri-food trade balance hits record levels
The EU agri-food trade balance stood at a record EUR 1.5 bn in April 2016, compared to EUR 1 bn in April 2015, the European Commission announced Monday in its latest monthly statistical report.

Finally, EU sets out scientific criteria for endocrine disruptors
The European Commission presented Wednesday - two years after they were due - its science-based criteria to identify endocrine disruptors in the field of plant protection products and biocides.

Ardeche chickens win prized EU food recognition
Free-range chickens, capons and guinea fowl from the Ardeche region in south-central France won recognition in the latest list of EU protected food names announced Tuesday.

EU okays AB InBev-SABMiller deal, on conditions
Brussels gave AB InBev, the world's largest brewer, the green light Tuesday for a proposed acquisition of SABMiller, the second largest brewer -- so long as it sells practically the entire SABMiller beer business in Europe.

Process contaminants in vegetable oils and foods: EFSA report
Glycerol-based process contaminants found in palm oil, but also in other vegetable oils, margarines and some processed foods, raise potential health concerns for average consumers of these foods in all young age groups, and for high consumers in all age groups.

Novel Food - List of authorisations
Foods that may be placed on the market in the EU pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 258/97 Article 4.2 first indent. Authorisation and use of novel foods and food ingredients have been harmonised in the European Union since 1997 when Regulation (EC) No 258/97 on novel food and novel food ingredients was adopted. Novel food is food not consumed to a significant degree in the European Union prior to 15 May 1997 and which falls under one of the categories listed in the Regulation (e.g. food consisting of or isolated from micro-organisms, fungi or algae).

Regulation on Novel Food
The European Parliament and the Council reached political agreement on 16 November on the EU's novel food proposal. The goal of the proposal is a more effective regulatory environment that will allow businesses to bring innovative food to market, whilst ensuring the highest possible levels of food safety for European consumers.

Monitoring drinking water for better protection of public health
New EU rules to improve the monitoring of drinking water across Europe came into force on 28 October, improving access to wholesome and clean drinking water in Europe.

GMOs in the EU - review of decision-making process
The European Commission presented on 22 April the outcome of its review of the decision-making process for the authorisation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as food and feed.

EU Commission policies on GMOs
The European Commission presented on 22 April the outcome of its review of the decision-making process for the authorisation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as food and feed. This review derives from the Political Guidelines presented to the European Parliament in July 2014, on the basis of which this Commission was elected. The Commission says the review confirms the need for changes that reflect public views and allow national governments to have a greater say on the use of EU-authorised GMOs for animal (feed) or human (food) consumption. As a result of this review, the Commission proposes to amend the legislation to confer upon Member States more freedom to restrict, or prohibit the use of EU-authorised GMOs in food or feed on their territory.

97% of foods in EU contain pesticide residues within legal limits
More than 97% of all samples analysed as part of the latest Europe-wide monitoring programme of pesticides in foods contain residue levels that fall within legal limits - with over 54% of samples free from any detectable trace of the chemicals. These findings are part of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) 2012 annual report on pesticide residues in food. The report is based on the analysis of almost 79,000 food samples carried out by 27 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway.

Food Information to Consumers - new labelling rules
New EU food labelling rules come into force on 13 December to ensure that consumers receive clearer, more comprehensive and accurate information on food content, and help them make informed choices about what they eat.

Avian Influenza in The Netherlands and the UK
The European Commission adopted on 17 November two emergency safeguard Decisions addressed to The Netherlands and the UK that define the areas that have been placed under stringent veterinary restrictions by those Member States, and where measures according to EU legislation are applied. The measures aim at quickly bringing the disease under control and at preventing the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza within the affected Member States, to other Member States and to third countries while minimising the disturbance to trade.

EUR 165m package for perishable fruit & vegetable market support
The European Commission adopted on 30 September a new programme for emergency market measures for perishable fruit & vegetables in the wake of the Russian ban on imports of certain EU agricultural products.

Study maps EU school food policies
The Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), has published the first comprehensive report on school food policies in Europe, as part of EU efforts to help reduce childhood obesity.

EC consults on protection of geographical indications for non-agricultural products
The European Commission launched on 15 July a Green Paper consultation on a possible extension of geographical indication protection to non-agricultural products.

Unfair trading practices in the food supply chain
The European Commission adopted on 15 July a Communication encouraging EU Member States to look for ways to improve protection of small food producers and retailers against the unfair practices of their sometimes much stronger trading partners. Before a food product reaches the consumer, many different market players (producers, processors, retailers, etc.) in the supply chain add to its quality and value. Due to developments such as increased market concentration, there are very different levels of bargaining power in the relations between the players in the supply chain. Whilst differences in bargaining powers are common and legitimate in commercial relationships, these imbalances can in some cases lead to unfair trading practices (UTPs).