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Food & Drink Guides

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Guides on the EU policy on food and drinks.
Evaluation of the European Union's GMO legislation - guide
Two independent reports evaluating the European Union's legislation on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) conclude that there is broad support for the legislation's objectives and show that recent legislative Commission initiatives are heading in the right direction. The documents, published today, also note that some adjustments are necessary if we are to meet the objectives of the legislation -the protection of health and the environment and the creation of an internal market- and to ensure that the legislation is properly implemented.
Report documents growing importance of the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed
The European Union's system for quick exchange of information on risks linked to food and feed - an invaluable tool especially at times of crisis - has further grown in importance during 2010, the system's annual report reveals.
Food labels: clearer information for consumers - guide
Food shoppers will be able to make better informed, healthier choices as the result of new EU food labelling rules approved by MEPs on 6 July. Labels will have to spell out a food's energy content as well as fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, protein and salt levels, in a way that makes them easy for consumers to read.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) - guide
EFSA publishes report from its Task Force on the E. coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Germany and France in 2011 and makes further recommendations to protect consumers
More consumer friendly labelling for European foods - guide
On 22 June 2011, EU Member States confirmed the compromise that was hammered out by the Hungarian Presidency with the European Parliament (EP), on the way food information will be indicated to consumers in the future. Agreements like on mandatory nutrition information and legibility will enable consumers to make healthier dietary choices.
Cloning - guide
The European Commission has announced that it will propose a temporary suspension of animal cloning for food production in the EU. The Commission also plans to suspend temporarily the use of cloned farm animals and the marketing of food from clones. All temporary measures will be reviewed after five years. The establishment of a traceability system for imports of reproductive materials for clones, such as semen and embryos of clones is also envisaged. The system will allow farmers and industry to set up database with the animals that would emerge from these reproductive materials.
Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed - guide
In 2009 the number of notifications in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) reached a total of nearly 8000, a 12% increase compared to 2008 and an all-time-high number. The record number was established because RASFF members sent more follow-up notifications, also for less urgent problems. There were 557 alert notifications reporting on serious risks found in products on the market, a small increase compared to 2008.
EU's new approach to the cultivation of GMOs - guide
The European Commission has proposed to confer to EU Member States the freedom to allow, restrict or ban the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on part or all of their territory. While keeping unchanged the EU's science-based GM authorisation system, the adopted package consists of a Communication, a new Recommendation on co-existence of GM crops with conventional and/or organic crops and a draft Regulation proposing a change to the GMO legislation. The new Recommendation on co-existence allows more flexibility to Member States taking into account their local, regional and national conditions when adopting co-existence measures. The proposed regulation amends Directive 2001/18/EC to allow Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory.
European Commission DG Health and Consumers Contacts
Contacts of the European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Consumers.
Plant health: Harmful organisms
The aim of the Community plant health regime is to prevent the introduction into the community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products or their spread within the Community. In order to meet the this aim, rights and obligations are placed upon Member States to regulate the movement of plants or plant products within their territory and to regulate the introduction of plants or plant products into the Community from third countries. Obligations are placed upon third countries which want to export plants or plant products to the Community.
Trade and Imports of Animal Products - personal consignments
Personal consignments containing meat, milk or their products and brought into the EU continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the EU. Hence pathogens could be introduced into the EU if personal consignments containing meat, milk or their products are sent by post or carried in the baggage of travellers arriving from countries outside the EU, where such pathogens may be circulating.
Novel food
Novel foods are foods and food ingredients that have not been used for human consumption to a significant degree within the Community before 15 May 1997. Regulation EC 258/97 of 27 January 1997 of the European Parliament and the Council lays out detailed rules for the authorisation of novel foods and novel food ingredients. Foods commercialised in at least one Member State before the entry into force of the Regulation on Novel Foods on 15 May 1997, are on the EU market under the "principle of mutual recognition". In order to ensure the highest level of protection of human health, novel foods must undergo a safety assessment before being placed on the EU market. Only those products considered to be safe for human consumption are authorised for marketing.
Food and Feed Labelling
In the EU rules are put in place on the labelling of foodstuffs to enable European consumers to get comprehensive information on the contents and the composition of food products. Labelling helps consumers to make an informed choice while purchasing their foodstuffs. For certain foods it is considered particularly important that the products should also be of a specific quality. In such cases legislation has been established defining specific rules on, for example, composition.
General Food Law
The aim of the General Food Law Regulation is to provide a framework to ensure a coherent approach in the development of food legislation. At the same time, it provides the general framework for those areas not covered by specific harmonised rules but where the functioning of the Internal Market is ensured by mutual recognition. It lays down definitions, principles and obligations covering all stages of food/feed production and distribution.
Transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms
This EU Regulation aims to implement the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on preventing biotechnological risks. The aim of the Protocol is to ensure an adequate level of protection for the transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that may have adverse effects on the environment and human health, and specifically focusing on transboundary movements (the movement of GMOs between two States with the excemption of intentional movements between parties to the Cartagena Protocol within the European Community).
Nutrition and health claims
Nutrition and health claims which encourage consumers to purchase a product, but are false, misleading or not scientifically proven are prohibited. The aim is to improve protection of consumers’ health and rights. European legislation has created a list of nutrition and health claims and the conditions for their authorisation which applies throughout the EU.
Labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs
Pre-packaged foodstuffs must comply with compulsory harmonised EU standards on labelling and advertising. The details that must appear on packaging include the name under which the product is sold, a list of ingredients and quantities, potential allergens (products which may cause allergies), the minimum durability date and conditions for keeping.
Protection of Geographical Indications and Designations of Origin
This Regulation establishes the rules for protecting designations of origin and geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs intended for human consumption in the EU.
General principles of food law - European Food Safety Authority
The EU's legislation governing the general principles of food law and harmonised controls also underpins the European Food Safety Authority, a European agency which provides the scientific reference point for food-related control and evaluation.
European Union food aid for deprived persons - European Court of Auditors report
Information note of the European Court of Auditors concerning Special Report No 6/2009 - European Union food aid for deprived persons: an assessment of the objectives, the means and the methods employed.