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Food & Drink Guides

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Guides on the EU policy on food and drinks.
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).
EU Strategy for the Welfare of Animals - mid-point review
The European Commission marks the mid-point of the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015 in Brussels on 12 February 2014. The event brought together key stakeholders to review the achievements of the strategy to date, and to identify remaining challenges. Government authorities, non-governmental organisations and those who work with animals every day discussed practical issues related to animal welfare and identify key areas for action to improve animal conditions for the strategy’s remaining term and beyond.
School Schemes for Fruit, Vegetables and Milk
The European Commission has published a proposal bringing together two currently separate school schemes, the School Fruit Scheme and the School Milk Scheme, under a joint framework. In a context of declining consumption among children for these products, the aim is to address poor nutrition more effectively, to reinforce the educational elements of the programmes and to contribute to fight against obesity. With the slogan "Eat well - feel good", this enhanced scheme from farm to school will put greater focus on educational measures to improve children's awareness of healthy eating habits, the range of farm produce available, as well as sustainability, environmental and food waste issues.
Commission proposals on animal cloning and novel food
The European Commission has today adopted three draft laws on animal cloning and on novel food which will provide legal certainty in this field. Two proposals will ban the use of the cloning technique in the EU for farm animals and the imports of these animal clones. The marketing of food from animal clones will also be prohibited. These proposals intend to address animal welfare and other ethical concerns related to the use of the technique. The draft law on novel food revises the existing Novel Food Regulation with a view to improving access of new and innovative food to the EU market, while still maintaining a high level of consumer protection.
New agricultural and agri-food product promotion policy
The European Commission has presented a draft reform of the information and promotion policy for European agricultural and food products. The new promotion policy, which benefits from a more substantial budget and will in future be supported by a European executive agency, is intended to act as key for opening up new markets. With the slogan 'Enjoy, it´s from Europe', the policy aims to help the sector's professionals break into international markets and make consumers more aware of the efforts made by European farmers to provide quality products, based on a genuine strategy established at European level.
EU policies on the cultivation and imports of GMOs
On the 26th September 2013, the General Court of the European Union delivered a ruling finding that the Commission failed to act on a GMO cultivation request which had been submitted twelve years ago in 2001. In line with this ruling, the Commission today acted by referring the cultivation request to the Council of Ministers. It is now up to the Ministers to take a position by qualified majority on this request. The European Food Safety Agency had already submitted a positive opinion on this request in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012, in all six positive opinions. This 2001 request falls under the "old" pre-Lisbon comitology procedure, which means that if the Council is not able to muster a qualified majority, either for or against the authorisation, then the Commission is obliged by law to grant the authorisation. In parallel, the Commission has requested a fresh debate in the Council of Ministers of its so-called "cultivation proposal" on which the European Parliament has already adopted its opinion which would allow Member States to restrict or prohibit cultivation of GMOs on their territory on grounds other than those relating to risks to health and the environment.
What future for our food system? - EU consults
The European Commission has put out a consultation asking for opinions about the European food production and consumption system. With some 89 million tons of food wasted every year in Europe, the consultation asks stakeholders, citizens, businesses, NGOs and public authorities for ideas on how to reduce food waste and, more generally, how to ensure our food system is using resources efficiently. The Commission says these will provide input for a Communication on Sustainable Food later this year.
Smarter rules for safer food
The European Commission has adopted a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain. Food safety is essential to ensure consumers' confidence and sustainability of food production. The Commission says the package of measures provides a modernised and simplified, more risked-based approach to the protection of health and more efficient control tools to ensure the effective application of the rules guiding the operation of the food chain. The package is a response to calls for better simplification of legislation and smarter regulation thus reducing administrative burden for operators and simplifying the regulatory environment. Special consideration is given to the impact of this legislation on SMEs and micro enterprises which are exempted from the most costly and burdensome elements in the legislation. The current body of EU legislation covering the food chain consists of almost 70 pieces of legislation. Today's package of reform will cut this down to 5 pieces of legislation and will also reduce the red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) to make it easier for them to carry out their profession.
European test results on horse DNA and Phenylbutazone
Coordinated EU-wide testing for horse meat DNA and phenylbutazone, requested, and co-financed, by the European Commission in the wake of the horse meat scandal, reveal that less than 5 % of the tested products had horse DNA and that about 0.5 % of the equine carcasses tested were found to be contaminated with bute.
Value of production of agricultural products and foodstuffs, wines, aromatised wines and spirits protected by a geographical indication (GI)
This study, financed by the European Commission, was carried out by AND International. The conclusions, recommendations and opinions presented in this report reflect the opinion of the consultant and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Commission.
EU adopts list of approved flavouring substances
Flavouring substances in food will become even safer and more transparent thanks to two pieces of legislation adopted today by the European Commission. Only those flavouring substances featuring on the approved lists will be permitted for use by the food industry. Used to alter the taste and/or odour of food, flavourings substances have a long history of safe use in a wide variety of foods, such as soft drinks, confectionery, cereals, cakes and yoghurts, and have now been evaluated at EU level. These two new pieces of legislation will clarify and harmonise the use of flavouring substances within the single market: The first Regulation1 provides for a new EU wide list of flavouring substances which can be used in food and will apply from 22 April 2013, giving time for the EU food industry to adapt to the new rules. All flavouring substances not in the list will be prohibited after a phasing out period of 18 months. The second Regulation2 concerns transitional measures for other flavourings such as flavourings made from non-food sources and will apply from 22 October 2012. The new list includes over 2,100 authorised flavouring substances. A further 400 will remain on the market until EFSA concludes its evaluation. These have been used for a long time and have already been assessed as safe by other scientific bodies.
Food quality labels: faster delivery, better protection, clearer information
The time it takes to obtain an EU quality label for farm produce from a given geographical area, or produced in a traditional way, could be halved by a regulation endorsed by Parliament on 13 September. The new rules, agreed by EP Agriculture Committee MEPs and Council negotiators in June, would also introduce a new label for "mountain" products. Labels for island produce and farm gate sales may follow soon.
List of permitted Health Claims on food products - guide
Health claims on food labelling and in advertising, for example on the role of calcium and bone health or vitamin C and the immune system, have become vital marketing tools to attract consumers' attention. EU consumers now expect accurate information on products they buy, in particular on the health claims the products may put forward. Today, a list of 222 health claims has been approved by the European Commission. This list is based on sound scientific advice, will be used throughout the EU and will also help to remove misleading claims from the market before the end of the year.
Organic Wine rules - guide
New EU rules for “organic wine” have been agreed in the Standing Committee on Organic Farming (SCOF), and will be published in the Official Journal in the coming weeks. With the new regulation, which will apply from the 2012 harvest, organic wine growers will be allowed to use the term “organic wine” on their labels. The labels must also show the EU-organic-logo and the code number of their certifier, and must respect other wine labelling rules. Although there are already rules for “wine made from organic grapes”, these do not cover wine-making practices, i.e. the whole process from grape to wine. Wine is the one remaining sector not fully covered by the EU rules on organic farming standards under Regulation 834/2007.
List of permitted Health Claims for use on Food - guide
In a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, EU Member States supported the European Commission's draft Regulation to adopt a list of permitted health claims for use on food.
Food Additives - guide
The use of additives in food will soon become safer and more transparent thanks to two pieces of legislation adopted by the European Commission.