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New rules for baby food, special diet food and low-calorie food

Rules on the labelling and content of baby milks and foods for special medical purposes will be better defined in order to protect consumers and distinguish more clearly between foods for normal consumption and foods for specific groups under legislation passed on Tuesday. The new rules, already agreed with Council, also cover some low-calorie diets.

"Infants, young children and seriously ill people are clearly not consumers like any others and it is our duty as legislator to fix stricter rules to govern, for example, the composition and labelling of foodstuffs intended for them,” said the rapporteur, Frédérique Ries (ADLE, BE), after the vote. “On the other hand, it is also important to establish order in the jungle of food products, by abolishing the concept of dietetic food cannibalised by marketing tools," she added.

The new legislation simplifies and clarifies the rules on the labelling and the composition of infant formula and follow-on formula (for babies between six and 10 months), processed cereal-based food, food for special medical purposes and total diet replacement for weight control.

It also includes an exclusive list of substances such as vitamins and minerals that can be added to these foods.

Baby milks

The labelling, presentation and advertising of infant formula and the labelling of follow-on formula must not "include pictures of infants, or other pictures or text which may idealise the use of such formula" in order "not to discourage breast-feeding", the rules say.

However, graphic representations intended for easy identification of the formula and for illustrating methods of preparation will still be permitted.

Parliament asks the Commission to evaluate whether "growing-up milks" intended for toddlers really have "any nutritional benefits when compared to a normal diet for a child who is being weaned". It should also assess whether legislation is needed for food intended for sportspeople..

Pesticide residues

The Commission is asked to ensure that pesticide residues in these products are reduced to a minimum.

Next steps

Some of the provisions in the new regulation (articles 11, 16, 18 and 19) will apply from the twentieth day following publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 2nd reading

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