Food news this week 19/1/18

The following has been taken from the British sandwich associations news letter.......

Bird Flu: Bird flu detected in the UK for first time this winter

  • Bird Flu was detected amongst 17 birds in Dorset, southwest England, for the first time this winter on 12 January, according to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
  • A “prevention zone” will be set up in the affected area which requires captive bird keepers to take measures to restrict mingling with wild birds.
  • Impact and recommendations: While the government made clear the risk to public health is very low, wide media coverage could still create concerns among consumers.

Plastics: European Commission to tackle plastic waste 

  • The European Commission published on 16 January a European strategy on plastics as part of the transition towards a more circular economy.
  • The strategy is an attempt to get companies and consumers to drop their addiction to plastic, with the goal of ensuring all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2030.
  • The document includes new requirements to design products that are recyclable, and EU-wide quality standards for plastic waste, which can then be more easily plugged back into the production chain. It also encourages producers to use as much recycled material as possible.
  • The Commission also said it will “explore the feasibility of introducing measures of a fiscal nature at the EU level”, such as a plastic tax.
  • Finally, the Commission plans to crack down on single-use plastics like straws, food and drink containers, cutlery and drink bottles.
  • The strategy is open for public consultation until 12 February 2018.
  • Impact and recommendations: The strategy is the first step in a long process before legislative or industry change can be made. The Commission plans to announce a legislative initiative in May targeting single-use plastics, with the goal of having a new law in place by next year.

Sugar & salt: EFSA to look into safe consumption levels for sugar and salt

  • The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the draft protocol it will use to investigate on whether it is possible to set a safe consumption level for free sugars. The document is open for public consultation until 4 March.
  • This follows a request from five national food agencies (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) to set a maximum daily intake level for added sugar. The draft protocol establishes the types of studies which will be considered in such a process.
  • The EFSA will hold a public meeting in Brussels on 13 February to gather stakeholder views on the document.
  • The Authority has also published the final protocol it will use to determine the relationship between sodium and some harmful health effects.
  • The EFSA’s assessment will focus on the impact on blood pressure, cardiovascular-related endpoints and bone health. The relationship between sodium and health effects including blood lipid profile, glucose tolerance and type-2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, effects on kidneys and gastric cancer will however be excluded because of lack of evidence.
  • The overarching objective of the Authority is to issue dietary reference values for salt for the different segments of the population.

Impact and recommendations: Maximum daily intakes for added sugar and salt could lead to new reformulation requirements.

Nutritional quality: Commission calls for tenders for large-scale nutritional study

  • The European Commission has launched the tender for what will be the first major survey of the nutritional quality of food on sale in EU supermarkets. The aim is to collect nutritional information on processed food products and to look at the feasibility of a proper monitoring system to record levels of salt, sugars and fat.
  • The €1.4 million pilot project will test the monitoring system in place and examine the usefulness, cost and feasibility of further harmonising and standardising of data collection to allow direct comparisons.
  • It will also include targeted workshops on the reformulation of food for public authorities and/or twinning initiatives to publicise best practices.
  • Information collected will cover the mandatory nutrition declaration, voluntary declarations on polyols and fibre, as well as information on nutrition and health claims, and the list of ingredients.

Impact and recommendations: For information only at this stage as it is so far unclear how the results of such a study will be used.

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