On 25 June 2015, the European Parliament’s committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has given its support to the compromise text of the Council of the European Union on the proposed Regulation on Novel Foods 2013/0435 (COD).
In the compromise text of 10 June 2015, the Council agreed with the amendments made by the European Parliaments and considered that they ‘would make the placing of novel foods on the EU market faster and cheaper while preserving the high level of protection of human health’.
This new Regulation on Novel Foods sets up a regulatory framework for innovative food products and food traditionally eaten outside of the EU. Engineered nanomaterials fall under the scope of this regulation; they are given the following definition:
- '"engineered nanomaterial" means any intentionally produced material that has one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nm or less or that is composed of discrete functional parts, either internally or at the surface, many of which have one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nm or less, including structures, agglomerates or aggregates, which may have a size above the order of 100 nm but retain properties that are characteristic of the nanoscale.
Properties that are characteristic of the nanoscale include:
(i)those related to the large specific surface area of the materials considered;
(ii)specific physico-chemical properties that are different from those of the non-nanoform of the same material.'
While ‘engineered nanomaterial’ is currently defined in the Food information to Consumers Regulation 1169/2011, the Council and Parliament consider that the Novel Foods Regulation is the appropriate legislative framework for the definition of ‘engineered nanomaterial’ and ask the Commission to use its delegated powers to align definitions.
In addition, the compromise text gives an important role to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) ; it states: ‘the Authority should verify that, where a novel food consists of engineered nanomaterials, the most up-to-date test methods are used to assess their safety.’
The Regulation on Novel Foods is planned to be voted upon in the October 2015 Plenary session of the European Parliament.