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Thursday, 7 July 2016 - Strasbourg Final edition
Objection to an implementing act: permitted health claims made on foods

European Parliament resolution of 7 July 2016 on the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health (D44599/02 – 2016/2708(RPS))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission regulation (D44599/02),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods(1), in particular Article 13(3) thereof,

–  having regard to the opinion delivered on 12 April 2016 by the committee referred to in Article 25(1) of the above regulation,

–  having regard to Article 5a(3)(b) of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(2),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to Rule 106(2), (3) and (4)(c) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 requires the Commission to establish, by 19 January 2009, specific nutrient profiles with which foods or certain categories of food must comply in order to bear nutrition or health claims, and the conditions for the use of nutrition or health claims for foods or categories of foods with respect to the nutrient profiles;

B.  whereas, according to Article 2(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, a ‘health claim’ means any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health;

C.  whereas there are legitimate concerns that the claims that caffeine helps to increase alertness and that caffeine helps to improve concentration do not demonstrate a relationship between caffeine consumption and ‘health’;

D.  whereas the Commission has not yet established those nutrient profiles;

E.  whereas a 250 ml can of energy drink can contain up to 27 g of sugar and 80 mg of caffeine;

F.  whereas the World Health Organisation recommends that adults and children receive no more than 10 % of their daily energy intake from free sugars and that a further reduction to below 5 % (approximately 25 g) per day would provide additional health benefits(3);

G.  whereas EFSA found evidence that a high intake of sugars in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages might contribute to weight gain;

H.  whereas use of the proposed health claims is likely to favour the consumption of energy drinks and, as a consequence, the daily intake of sugar and caffeine might legitimately be expected to exceed the recommended maximum daily intake;

I.  whereas Article 3(c) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 prohibits the use of health claims that encourage the excess consumption of a food;

J.  whereas, under the draft Commission regulation, the claims that caffeine helps to increase alertness and that caffeine helps to improve concentration shall not be used for foods targeting children and adolescents;

K.  whereas adolescents represent the largest group of energy drink consumers;

L.  whereas 68 % of adolescents and 18 % of children regularly consume energy drinks;

M.  whereas the energy drink industry’s voluntary Code of Practice for the Marketing and Labelling of Energy Drinks only commits not to market energy drinks to children under the age of 12(4);

N.  whereas in practice it is difficult to control that energy drinks bearing the proposed claims are not sold to children, regardless of whether they target children or adolescents, thus rendering the condition of use attached to the proposed claims ineffective; whereas in any event nothing prevents the marketing of such drinks to adolescents;

O.  whereas, as stated in Article 3(a) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, the use of nutrition and health claims shall not be ambiguous or misleading;

P.  whereas the condition or restriction that the proposed claims should not be used for foods targeting children or adolescents would render them ambiguous as regards the potential adverse effects of such food on human health;

Q.  whereas the Commission has in the past (as confirmed by the General Court on dextrose) refused to authorise health claims which conveyed a contradictory and ambiguous message to consumers, even if they were to be authorised subject to specific conditions of use and/or were accompanied by additional messages or warnings(5);

R.  whereas in its Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine the European Food Safety Authority concluded that insufficient information was available on which to base a safe level of caffeine intake for children but that an intake corresponding to 3 mg per kg of body weight per day would probably not give rise to safety concerns for children and adolescents(6);

S.  whereas, as stated in point (c) of Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, ‘the use of nutrition and health claims shall not [...] encourage or condone excess consumption of a food’;

T.  whereas 25 % of adolescent energy drink consumers drink three or more cans in a single session and the proposed claims might encourage the consumption of even greater quantities of such energy drinks;

U.  whereas the proposed warning label (conditions of use) does not provide any warning regarding the maximum consumption per single intake, but refers only to the maximum intake per day;

V.  whereas energy drinks have been linked to headaches, sleep problems and behavioural problems in children and adolescents who regularly consume them;

1.  Opposes adoption of the draft Commission regulation;

2.  Considers that the draft Commission regulation is not compatible with the aim and content of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006;

3.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw the draft regulation;

4.  Calls on the Member States to consider introducing rules on the marketing of beverages with high caffeine content or foods with added caffeine to children and adolescents;

5.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 404, 30.12.2006, p. 9.
(2) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.
(5) See judgment of the General Court of 16 March 2016, Dextro Energy v European Commission, T-100/15, ECLI:EU:T:2016:150, paragraph 74.

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