The European Commission (EC) has published a draft that amends Regulation 1169/2011 governing the provision of food information to consumers. Most crucially the change means that the EC’s recommended definition will be used by the newly-revised regulation, and consequently some food additives, which had been registered as ‘nano’, may no longer be categorised as such.
The draft states that it is ‘appropriate to adapt the definition of ‘engineered nanomaterials’ laid down in Regulation 1169/2011 to that provided in Recommendation 2011/696/EU [which is the EC’s recommended definition of nanomaterial], which reflects the technical and scientific progress to date’. Furthermore it stated that the definition should be linked to that of ‘intentionally manufactured material, which should be explicitly defined’; as such it ‘should take into account the definition adopted by ISO [International Organization for Standardization], according to which ‘engineered nanomaterial’ is ‘nanomaterial designed for a specific purpose or function’’.
It also notes that it would be unsuitable for certain items included in the EC’s lists of food additives permitted for use to be preceded by the word ‘nano’. This is because ‘it may confuse the consumers as it may suggest that those additives are new while in reality they have been used in foods in that form for decades’. Taking this into account, the revision states that ‘food additives included in the [Union lists] should not be mandatorily qualified as ‘nano’ in the list of ingredients and should therefore not be covered by the definition of engineered nanomaterials’. The legislation is set to state that ‘the need for specific nano-related labelling requirements relating to those additives should be addressed in the context of’ a re-evaluation programme to be headed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
One further change is to text regarding the distribution of particles. The draft states that ‘the number-based size-distribution threshold should be replaced by a threshold between 1% and 50% in the future in light of technological developments concerning detection and quantification methods and where warranted by concerns for health and safety’.
Regulation 1169/2011 was passed in October 2011, and ‘establishes the general principles, requirements and responsibilities governing food information, and in particular food labelling’.