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MEPs reject nanofood labelling rules

02/04/14Government

Brussels: MEPs have rejected new labelling rules for engineered nanomaterials proposed by the European Commission.

Nanomaterials are tiny structures just billionths of a metre (nanometre) in size. As a result of their tiny size, they can penetrate the human body more easily and offer different properties than larger forms of the same materials. These particles can be used to change the taste, colour, flavour, and texture of food.

Current EU rules define engineered nanomaterials as any intentionally produced material whose size is under 100nm. The Commission aimed to make this more precise by adding that a nanomaterial should consist of at least 50% of particles having a size between 1-100nm.

The proposal was rejected by MEPs because it would exempt nano-sized food additives already on the market. The European Food Safety Authority recommends a 10% threshold.

MEPs said they considered the Commission’s justification for the exemption – that indicating existing food additives followed by the word ‘nano’ in brackets on the labels could confuse consumers by suggesting that these additives are new – to be “erroneous and irrelevant”.

“The EP has repeatedly called for proper nano-labelling and it is highly surprising that the Commission even tried to weaken what has been decided by both Parliament and the Council. Consumers have the right to know and make their own choice. They do not want the Commission to do that for them. That is why today’s vote is important,” said Carl Schlyter, responsible for Parliament’s scrutiny of these draft rules.

Pan European Networks Ltd