New rules for novel food, that is, any food that was not used for human consumption within the EU to a significant degree before 15 May 1997 (e.g. food with a modified molecular structure, microorganisms, fungi, algae, food obtained from cellular or tissue cultures, or insects). Draft plans to encourage food innovation via a new, simplified authorization procedure for novel foods were in fact approved by the Environment Committee of the Ministry of European Parliament last Monday. MEPs nonetheless amended the text and proposed a moratorium on the use of nanomaterials in food, based on the precautionary principle. They also added provisions for compulsory labelling of cloned food products.
Taking into account that emerging technologies in food production processes may have an impact on food safety, the foods for which production processes require risk assessments – including nanomaterials – should therefore not be authorized until they are approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), say MEPs. Special attention should also be paid to food packaging containing nanomaterials, to prevent them migrating into food. And in line with the precautionary principle, all novel food should also be subject to post-market monitoring.
MEPs amended the scope of the legislation to include cloned meat products. Until specific legislation on food derived from cloned animals and their descendants enters into force, this food should fall under the scope of this regulation, and be appropriately labelled for the final consumer, MEPs say. Member states would be allowed to ban a novel food temporarily, if new information suggests that it may pose a risk to human health or the environment. The Commission, together with EFSA, should then examine the grounds for concern, MEPs say.
SOURCE: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT