Rules on the labelling and content of baby milk and foods for special medical purposes should be better defined in order to protect consumers and distinguish more clearly between foods for normal consumption and foods for specific groups, says a deal struck by Parliament and Council negotiators. The agreement, unanimosly approved by the public health committee on Wednesday, also covers some low-calorie diets.
The new legislation, steered through Parliament by Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE), will replace various pieces of legislation currently in force in order to simplify and clarify the rules on the labelling and composition of products that make up some 1 to 2 % of the total food market. These are infant formula and follow-on formula (for babies aged six to eight months), processed cereal-based food, food for special medical purposes and total diet replacement for weight control.
"With this new regulation on special foods, the European Parliament wants to send a simple message: infants and people who are seriously ill are not ordinary consumers and the rules on safety and quality must be adapted accordingly," Frédérique Ries said after the vote.
The agreed text stipulates that, in future, the labelling of milk-based preparations for babies up to the age of 12 months (including follow-on formula) will not include any pictures of infants or other pictures intended to "idealise" the use of such preparations, with the aim of ensuring that breast-feeding is not discouraged.
Parliament also invites the Commission to clarify the complex legal situation of milks intended for children aged 12 to 36 months (so-called "growing-up milks" or "toddlers' milks") and to propose specific legislation if necessary.
Parliament asks the Commission to ensure that pesticide residues in these products are reduced to a minimum. The Commission should also table a report on the possible need for legislation on foods intended for people who play sports, it says.
Gluten and lactose intolerance
Special rules on the labelling of gluten and lactose should be incorporated in separate legislation on consumer information about foodstuffs, the agreement says. (Lactose is not covered by harmonised rules at EU level.)
The committee recommends approving the agreement negotiated with EU ministers. It will be put to the vote in the full House in Strasbourg in June.
In the chair: Matthias Groote (S&D, DE)