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Procedure : 2011/0156(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0059/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0059/2012

Debates :

PV 14/06/2012 - 6
CRE 14/06/2012 - 6

Votes :

PV 14/06/2012 - 11.3
CRE 14/06/2012 - 11.3
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Debates
Thursday, 14 June 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

6. Food intended for infants and young children and food for special medical purposes (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. − The first item is the report (A7-0059/2012) by Frédérique Ries, on behalf of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on food intended for infants and young children and on food for special medical purposes (COM(2011)0353 - C7-0169/2011 - 2011/0156(COD)).

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries, rapporteur.(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, I would have also liked to welcome the Danish Presidency but perhaps this is the aftermath of defeat, I do not know, so we will do this without it.

Firstly, and this is important, I would particularly like to thank Ms Lange, Ms Sârbu, Ms Girling, and Ms Liotard, as well as Mr Schlyter and Mr Rossi, who acted as rapporteurs for their respective political groups throughout the course of this lengthy piece of work and who have proven that we are clearly stronger together than when Parliament is divided on certain issues. This, of course, is in the best interests of the citizens, families and vulnerable population groups who are most likely to be affected by this future legislation on food.

The text which we will now debate and which we will vote on in three hours’ time is essential for newborns, young children under the age of three and those suffering from long-term illnesses who have specific nutritional needs. To put it simply, here we are targeting food intended for particular groups, which covers close to 2% of the large food market.

I will not dwell too long on how this legislation came into being, suffice to say that the Commission has done well after 35 years of the legislation on dietary foods being in force, and after it was extended to other types of products, to undertake the complete renovation of this particular legal arsenal, and for good reason. We must establish order in this jungle of food products which is threatening the cohesion of the internal market and which, moreover, often does not allow consumers to exercise their freedom of choice.

By voting unanimously on my draft report on 29 February – let me remind you – the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection sent a clear message, which I will summarise as follows: the Commission’s approach, which I just mentioned, of simplifying this legislation and abolishing the concept of dietary foods is the right approach. We have supported it.

It is also crucial to maintain a tailor-made legislative framework for three types of foodstuff: food intended for infants and young children – both liquid and solid food – and food intended for sick people, as I said. In other words, sub-categories of restricted groups, to put it that way, who therefore cannot exercise this freedom of choice, hence the vital importance for us to maintain strict rules on labelling and composition.

Thirdly, we wanted to broaden the scope to other equally vulnerable population groups, without wanting to make the situation worse, of course. Specifically, I am talking about people who are overweight and on drastic diets of less than 1 200 calories per day and people intolerant to gluten, in other words those suffering from what is known as coeliac disease. Around 2% of the European population suffer from this disease and they strongly support our desire to maintain a specific legal framework for these so-called gluten-free products.

I would remind you that this legislation aims to protect the most fragile, the most vulnerable among us, and that is essential.

We also wanted – I will not be able to mention everything but this is important – to think about our most dynamic European companies, these small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are at the heart of innovation and job creation in Europe. Whether they are Italian or German companies involved in gluten-free products, Belgium companies – off the top of my head – involved in food supplements, the least we can say is that SMEs, many of which approached us throughout the course of our work, were worried to see the Commission’s plan to shake up the current legislation in the 2006 regulation on claims.

I can easily understand their concerns and I will use a single argument, but an important one: the costs they must bear in order to draw up a robust scientific file to present to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), on average between EUR 500 000 and EUR 1 000 000. How do you expect healthy and fair competition to be established under these conditions? That is why access to the internal market for SMEs must be a common theme across all of our legislation. Of course, that is what we are saying here.

To finish, I would like to send a brief message to the shadow rapporteurs. You will understand that, in my capacity as rapporteur, I must stand by the overall compromise that was reached in committee. I do not wish to re-open new issues or issues that were resolved in committee.

Even though, personally, I can sympathise with some of the amendments tabled in plenary, particularly Amendment 84 on pesticides, I will stand by our agreement, our compromises. It is covered in our own amendment, Amendment 63, and furthermore a promise is a promise and I will stand by it. Thank you, and I am looking forward to hearing the next speakers.

 
  
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  John Dalli, Member of the Commission. Mr President, in line with the principle of better regulation, the Commission proposal concerning foods for infants and young children, and foods for special medical purposes seeks to simplify current legislation by removing rules that have become unnecessary or sometimes contradictory.

The protection of vulnerable groups of the population is one of the key objectives of the proposal we are discussing here today. But before turning to the substance of the proposal I would first of all like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Ries, for preparing the report, and also the shadow rapporteurs.

I should also mention the input from other committees – the Committees on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The Commission is pleased with the general line taken, as regards the proposed amendments. The proposal would abolish the concept of dietetic food – a concept that is today considered outdated given the evolution of the food market over the past decade.

I am pleased to see that honourable Members openly agree with this approach and recognise the need to fundamentally revise the existing legislation. The scope of the proposed draft regulation would be limited to a number of well-known categories of foods intended for vulnerable groups of the population, namely infants and young children, and people that need products for the dietary management of conditions under medical supervision.

Some of the proposed amendments suggest adding slimming foods intended to replace the total daily diet to the scope of the regulation. Although I believe that these foods could be managed comprehensively under the horizontal rules of food law, I understand Parliament’s concerns and I am open to considering their inclusion within the scope of the proposal.

However, my support cannot extend to the inclusion of gluten-free foods within the scope of the regulation. This, in our view, is unnecessary and would be in line neither with the interest of coeliacs, for whom these products are intended, nor with the principles of better regulation and simplification.

We all agree on the importance of maintaining the existing rules on such foods. But this can be ensured in a simpler and better way by transferring these rules to the recently adopted Regulation on Food Information to Consumers. In addition, such a transfer would guarantee that the existing rules would also apply to non-prepacked foods and would consequently offer higher and broader protection to coeliacs.

Several amendments have been made as regards labelling provisions and restricted use of pesticides in baby foods. I can tell you that I share the same views as Parliament as regards protecting infants and young children, and I can agree in principle with the suggestions made. However, I believe that the details to give effect to these principles should be dealt with in the specific delegated acts.

I also support the same positive approach concerning the preparation of reports on sports foods and growing-up milks. On the other hand, I cannot support the amendments regarding the establishment and update of the Union list of substances by delegated acts instead of implementing acts. The Commission’s proposal is in accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon and the Commission Guidelines on delegated acts. This approach should not be changed.

Regarding advertising, enabling Member States to apply further restrictions to all foods for infants and young children, without distinction, would be disproportionate to the objectives of the draft regulation and can have an impact on the good functioning of the internal market.

As you can see, there is much more that unites us than divides us and I remain confident that discussions both in Parliament and Council will lead to a good final text at second reading. I look forward to having your views.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. (FI) Mr President, right at the start I wish to thank the rapporteur, Ms Ries, for her excellent work. We in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy – and it was I who drafted its opinion here – readily agreed with its sound views and sound basis, and it is our opinion, and mine, that this is a very important piece of legislation, given that the previous legislation in many respects became obsolete.

It is important that we are careful in this area, especially because, when we talk about infant formulae and food for medical purposes, then obviously their packaging has to be very clearly labelled. Their presentation must also be clear and the wording must be comprehensible. It is also important that it does not contain any misleading claim, medical or otherwise, and that people actually know what they are getting as consumers.

I might say that, as I myself have become a grandfather and have therefore become familiar with these infant formulae in a very practical sense, it is obvious that clarity is required in this area, and that we have to step in when such misleading advertising exists: advertising must be clear and the information must be correct and reliable in all respects.

 
  
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  Iliana Ivanova, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. Mr President, there are a number of benefits that this legislation will offer.

Firstly, it will protect consumers more efficiently by better informing them on specific food products. Labelling should be clear, easy to understand and should not make medical claims – in this regard, for example, the notion of dietetic foods is no longer appropriate as there have not been explicit criteria up until now to define particular food as dietetic.

Secondly, it is absolutely imperative to provide a high level of consumer protection for vulnerable groups. For instance, we have to ensure that milks intended for infants and young children are strictly regulated with regard to their content. Thorough research is needed to find out to what extent these milks really contribute to the growth and health of children. Moreover, the proposed simplification of the existing legal framework will contribute to the better functioning of the internal market. It will reduce the administrative burden on companies, increase transparency and further stimulate free movement of goods.

I hope that we will all support the balanced proposal, which will provide optimal protection for consumers’ health. My congratulations to the rapporteur and all colleagues in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) with whom we had very good cooperation on this dossier.

 
  
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  Esther de Lange, on behalf of the PPE Group. – (NL) Mr President, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I would like to support the line taken by the rapporteur and also offer our sincere thanks for her work. We agree with the Commission that we urgently need to tidy up this legislation, in the face of the uncontrolled growth in diabetic foods and specialist food products now on the internal market. Our position is that ordinary food legislation has now developed to such an extent that most products can just be covered by it. We do, however, want to protect the most vulnerable groups in our society.

We are thus discussing a separate regime for food for medical purposes and for food intended for infants and young children, but we are specifically adding, in this regard, dietetic foods and also gluten, as it is not fully clear to us precisely how and when the Commission will be regulating these foodstuffs under the general legislation on foodstuffs.

I want to call on the Commission, and above all the Council, too, to act quickly. We have now done our homework; we have a report that has been adopted with a large majority, and I expect that the same will shortly be true of the plenary. It is thus now up to the Council to bring about a balanced negotiating mandate.

While we sit here talking, all kinds of new food products come on the market, such as growing milk for one to three-year-olds. Parents in Europe are confused about this product. Is this really an indispensible product in the diet of a young child that we therefore need to regulate through special legislation? Or is it actually just long-life milk with some added vitamins? Or – worse still – is it perhaps bad for children owing to the fact that it has a very sweet vanilla taste, giving children a tendency towards sweet things for the rest of their lives?

Commissioner, Europe sometimes seems so far removed from the citizens. I call on you to shed light on this issue via the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Every parent in Europe will be grateful.

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu, on behalf of the S&D Group.(RO) Mr President, I would like to begin by thanking the rapporteur because she took into consideration our colleagues’ recommendations while both drafting the report and tabling the amendments. I feel that the aim of these regulations is to guarantee that people have access to relevant, correct information about the food they eat.

Great strides have been made in recent years in European Union legislation on food labelling, which has resulted in greater transparency and protection for consumers. However, the old legislation on dietetic foods poses an obstacle preventing further progress on this. This is why I welcomed the proposal tabled by the Commission, as well as the improvements put forward in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

One of my main concerns about this dossier has been the issue of labelling and advertising powder milk formulae for infants and young children. As we are aware, in many cases, even in spite of the advice given or regulations, breast-milk substitutes are promoted aggressively. At the moment, the statistics confirm that the proportion of mothers breastfeeding remains low across the whole European Union. Legislative loopholes are exploited which either allow the advertising rules to be circumvented or make it difficult to enforce them.

I voted against including so-called ‘growing milk’ in these regulations, a product intended for young children. I had a justified reason for this: there is no evidence confirming that this product provides nutritional benefits, compared to a normal, balanced diet. This product is not a food for special medical purposes. It is no more than an expensive substitute for ordinary milk and a balanced diet. However, because it is available in stores, the advertising claims made by producers about the product’s quality must be thoroughly justified.

The purpose of these regulations is clear: so that we can help ensure that people are properly informed when they choose what they eat, and opt for a healthy, balanced diet.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE), Blue-card question. (DE) I would like to ask Ms Sârbu the following question: this legislation is again associated with a lot of red tape, for example in relation to pesticides. I would be interested to know why there is such a strong desire to duplicate legislation at European level. We already have a great deal of existing legislation, so why should we follow this route all over again?

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), Blue-card answer.(RO) Mr President, the reason is precisely that there may be certain loopholes in the legislation we have had until now, which are being abused, resulting in this situation that we have currently ended up in. Tighter legislation is needed, which will be observed and adopted in such a way to make everything crystal clear and ensure that we ultimately arrive at the solutions which we want.

 
  
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  Antonyia Parvanova, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Mr President, let me start by congratulating my colleague Frédérique Ries on her report and for the great work accomplished in bringing forward the solid compromises on the Commission proposal aimed at ensuring a high level of consumer protection in relation to foods for infants and young children, and foods for special medical purposes. I believe that Parliament’s position today makes a significant contribution to, and strengthens, this initial objective.

I especially welcome the fact that substitute meals replacing all or part of a person’s daily food intake continue to be the subject of specific legislation, thus ensuring stricter control over the composition of such food and safeguarding the consumer interest when it comes to health and nutrition claims.

Growing-up milk and milk intended for young children was a key point of our discussion in committee, and still is today, ahead of the vote in plenary. It will probably not be possible to address all the issues at stake through this piece of legislation alone, and I therefore very much welcome the inclusion of a request to the Commission to further assess the status of these products and to evaluate the need for specific legislation, notably for milks intended for children aged between 12 and 36 months. It is in the interests of all consumers, in the interests of children and their mothers, to ensure strict and safe composition rules, but also to guarantee the highest level of accuracy. Therefore, when it comes to communication on these products, the health of infants and children comes first and should take precedence over the interests of production and marketing.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(SV) Mr President, on the contrary, we cooperated quite well. I really should speak Swedish, of course.

The starting point for my work on this matter was the protection of children and the protection of vulnerable consumers. We have succeeded to a certain extent in making the rules simpler. What I am most satisfied with are the restrictions on the advertising of infant formulae. I would also like you to support our amendment containing even stricter rules for the use of pesticides. The most dangerous pesticides that we manufacture must under no circumstances be used in the production of agricultural products for the manufacture of baby food. It is nonsensical, and I hope we will receive support for it, but even the original proposal tightens up the rules slightly.

I also think it is good that we are doing away with unnecessary special categories of food, and I hope the Commission, the Council and Parliament will find a good solution so that we do not only help those who are gluten intolerant, but also those who are intolerant to soya and milk proteins. Then we can have comprehensive legislation that is able to protect all consumers. I would like to thank everyone involved for their excellent cooperation during the work on this matter.

 
  
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  Julie Girling, on behalf of the ECR Group. Mr President, may I also offer my congratulations to the rapporteur and to the shadow rapporteurs. Better regulation should simplify the rules, unravel the tangle and make interpretation and implementation simpler, and this is a thread which clearly runs through the Commission’s proposal.

I absolutely agree that infants, young children and people with particular medical conditions should be protected from misleading information, but I do ask myself sometimes whether we have really simplified this proposal, or whether we are just making it more complicated, but in slightly different areas.

Yes, it is true, as the rapporteur said, that we had an agreement, but that agreement was breached by putting amendments to this plenary session, so I feel quite free on my own account to breach it too. So I will talk about the issues that I did not sign up to in the compromise. The first was the proposal on gluten-free. I certainly do not believe that the proposal that we have come up with in committee makes it easier for consumers. I do not believe it adds anything at all to their safety or to the protection of their vulnerability. It is protecting certain manufacturers in certain countries, and certain national regimes, and we should cut across that.

I also have particular problems with the low calorie diet and very low calorie diet proposals from committee. They were offered no evidence at all that medicalising people who have a condition known to threaten their health would be helped by making it more difficult for them to get hold of the products that they find useful.

Again, following on with the ‘no evidence’, we were offered no evidence at all on the advertising of the milk products, the follow-on milk. It was an emotional reaction, which I am sure is very worthy, but there was no evidence. We should be making our rules based on the evidence in front of us. Again, on these new amendments on pesticides, we already have, in my view, strict and well-regulated rules in place for the use of pesticides. No evidence was produced, beyond opinion, that it was necessary to provide stricter controls for these vulnerable groups. If we are going to make these points and legislate on them, people should at least have the courtesy of showing us decent evidence as to why we should go along that road.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Anja Weisgerber (PPE), Blue-card question.(DE) I have a question for Ms Girling. She has just stated that the rules for gluten intolerance will not be of any further help. I believe that it is very important to protect these people because intolerance sufferers require this strict diet. If we fail to include them in the high protection standards of this regulation, instead depending solely on food labelling, then the necessary level of protection is not assured. It is for this reason that I strongly support this resolution and would like to ask Ms Girling why she believes this is not the case.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR), Blue-card answer. Mr President, the simple answer is that I think the speaker is wrong.

It is a question of whether or not these groups are helped. I do not believe that they are helped by this extra proposal. I do not think it helps at all.

I think the proposal and the regulation we are putting in place on food – across food information for consumers, health claims – is all adequate. Adding to this proposal does not help consumers at all. In fact, it may confuse them.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Cymański, on behalf of the EFD Group.(PL) Mr President, first of all, I would like to thank the rapporteur for her work on drafting the report.

As far as the new regulation is concerned, it should be noted that the previous provisions left much to be desired in practice. Despite the fact that they were adopted in order to enable the free movement of this type of goods, they have led to disruptions in trade on the EU’s internal market owing to the ambiguous and often unclear regulations. We should therefore now support the amendments which aim to eliminate excessive administrative burdens and prevent restrictions on competitiveness, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises which dominate this specialised sector of the food industry.

Market issues aside, however, food safety is of paramount importance. It is especially significant when it concerns population groups as sensitive as children. I would also like to voice my agreement with the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee, which has stated that the Member States should be allowed to apply national regulations wherever justified in the interest of public health protection. Such a solution would not jeopardise the concept of identical treatment of similar products across the entire European Union.

 
  
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  Alda Sousa, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(PT) Mr President, when we go into a supermarket these days and look at, say, the yoghurt section, we could be forgiven for thinking that we have just stepped into a pharmacy, such is the range on offer. However, this level of advertising, which is ultimately excessive, contrasts with the lack of information and labelling for sectors of the population with specific needs: newborns, infants, those who are gluten- or lactose-intolerant, diabetics, and many others. More serious still, these foods are often unavailable, even after looking in several supermarkets and shops. Lack of availability cannot be an option for those with no choice.

Another pertinent issue is price, as these products are generally much more expensive. For people with special nutritional needs this is not a matter of choice, but of absolute necessity. We cannot allow a situation in which, in this area too, there is a gulf between those who can obtain items that are essential in their life and those who cannot. This is a key concern for us, as a public health issue, and the health of all of us cannot rest in the hands of the few yet powerful food industry multinationals.

Clear rules are needed to protect those who have no choice, and it is clear to us that Europe cannot ignore the health of the most vulnerable.

 
  
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  Peter Liese (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Dalli, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Ms Ries for her work on the report, as well as the shadow rapporteurs, in particular Ms de Lange, who has handled the matter very well on behalf of our group.

We have succeeded in achieving a good consensus on most issues in the committee. I also wish expressly to welcome the compromise on special foods for coeliacs. We have had lengthy discussions within the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and believe that it is important to continue to provide special foods in this context, because the point is not just that these foods are gluten-free – after all this can be assured by means of labelling regulations – but that a balanced diet is essential. After all, if I just eat sweets for the whole day, I may have avoided gluten, but I certainly will not have eaten healthily. That is why the question of balance must be considered.

We are particularly concerned about infants and young children. The various amendments currently tabled should not create the impression that we somehow differ on the question of pesticides in baby food. I was involved when the European Parliament pushed through harmonisation at the most stringent level possible in the 1990s. We made it practically mandatory that only organic ingredients should be permitted in baby food, because the detection limit defines what we allow. If the detection limit is to be lowered, then the Commission will have to come up with a new proposal.

I myself have worked in a paediatric clinic and I believe it is always important to listen to what specialist doctors and professional medical groups have to say on these issues. At the time, these people advised us to put very strict regulations in place. We followed this advice. They are now telling us, however, that what Ms Ries and others in the Committee have proposed, which is what we have agreed, is also the pragmatic solution and that we do not need to go beyond this. I would ask the Commission to monitor this. When we have new detection methods, then we can do more. Otherwise, this is a balanced proposal and we should not give the impression that we are somehow offering some children better protection than others.

 
  
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  Matthias Groote (S&D).(DE) Mr President, I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the shadow rapporteurs and the rapporteur. This report was adopted by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety with an absolute majority of 62 votes in favour, no votes against and no abstentions. This shows that we are actually very much at one with regard to the compromises.

Of course, we must give the greatest priority in this legislative process to the provision of high level consumer protection for the younger members of society, in other words children, who need special consideration. Gluten intolerance is a problem, particularly in nurseries. If we look around us – I myself have two children in this age group – we will be aware of the allergies and intolerances that arise, which is why I believe that we have chosen the right approach. We should continue to discuss this in the second reading, also involving the Council and Commission. I believe that we will then also achieve positive results.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Commission’s decision to do away with the notion of dietetic foods, so that they fall into other regulatory frameworks, is detrimental to the particular groups of people for whom these foods were intended – for example, children up to the age of three, infants, coeliacs, professional athletes and those who need very low-calorie products.

This choice was opposed in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and agreement was not reached at first reading. The report that was adopted attempts to fill in many gaps. For example, it calls for foods for premature underweight babies and coeliacs and foods with low calorie content to be brought back into the scope of the regulation, for appropriate standards to be adopted for milk for children between the ages of one and three, for the innovation clause to be retained, and for foods for professional sportspersons to be regulated again. Particular attention should be given to coeliacs. Therefore, a specific regulation must be maintained which has fully demonstrated its efficiency. Simply mentioning allergens on the label does not guarantee the level of safety necessary.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE).(FR) Mr President, wanting to simplify European legislation is a very good thing. To put it simply, this must not be achieved to the detriment of food safety. This must not allow us to compromise on the demand for double safety, namely, nutrition safety and health safety, all the more so when we are talking about vulnerable population groups.

We are talking about infants. We are talking about people who need energy-restricted diets, such as diabetics. We are talking about people intolerant to gluten.

It is completely incomprehensible not to want to include within this framework people who are truly intolerant to gluten or those on energy-restricted diets. It is incomprehensible when we know that today one in every hundred people develops a gluten allergy. That is why we very much want to reintegrate gluten-free food into the legislation so that there is better consumer protection. Otherwise, repealing strict provisions would be truly harmful.

We are also expecting the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to make a statement on ‘growing foods’, such as ‘growing milk’ for children aged one to three, because we do not see why these children should not benefit from milk that is adapted to their needs, without pesticides or contaminants.

I would of course like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ms Ries, and I am sure that Parliament will succeed in defending the most vulnerable consumers.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D). - Mr President, this report has been a huge task and I welcome many of the changes made by the Commission and the rapporteur. However, I want to focus on one particular issue, which is the advertising of so-called follow-on formula milk for infants over six months old. The World Health Organisation and most paediatricians agree that these formulas are not necessary. Currently there is a ban on advertising formula milk for newborns, but follow-on formula can be, and is, widely advertised. Last year I tried to stop a misleading health claim on follow-on milk with the support of the majority of MEPs, but sadly we did not get the absolute majority we needed to block the claim.

Research shows that due to marketing techniques many parents do not know the difference between infant formula and follow-on formula and that they start using follow-on formula far too early. I fear that allowing advertising of follow-on formulas creates a loophole in the ban on advertising infant formula and it is a loophole that we should definitely close.

Obviously, parents are naturally anxious to provide the best nutrition possible for their children, but they should make these decisions on the basis of objective information from experts and not be pressurised by industry into buying products that may not be necessary. I therefore urge all Members to vote in favour of Amendment 86.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Esther de Lange (PPE), Blue-card question. Mr President, I do not know how long ago it is that Ms Willmott used formula milk, but on formula there is a gigantic ‘1’, which means zero to six months. On follow-on formula there is gigantic number ‘2’, which means the second age group, six to twelve months. How stupid does Ms Willmott think European citizens are? Is this not an example of the European nanny state trying to regulate everything and focusing on the wrong things? So please vote against Amendment 68, which is absolutely superfluous.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D), Blue-card answer. Mr President, the Member is right, it is an awful long time since I had a child, since I am a lot older than she is. I have to say that I never actually used formula milk. I only breast fed, but that is irrelevant. This is not actually about whether a woman chooses to breast feed or bottle feed. I have no problem with whatever a woman chooses to do – that is entirely up to her, as people have different life experiences and different life styles. They may have various problems with breast feeding. However, many parents – and research has proven this – do not understand the difference between infant formula and follow-on formula. The Member should look at the research if she does not believe me. Surely what we should not be doing is misleading parents into buying things that they should not necessarily be giving to their children.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). – (SK) Mr President, the protection of vulnerable population groups is an important task of society, and therefore the current rules regulating the production and sale of foodstuffs intended for infants and young children and of foodstuffs for special purposes that are no longer in line with the latest scientific knowledge need to be brought up to date. I would like to begin by applauding the efforts of the Commission to simplify and clarify these rules. Better knowledge of the action of various substances on the human body has allowed us to formulate the necessary limits more precisely and to lay down stricter rules, a result of which is the introduction of a ban on the presence of pesticides in foodstuffs intended for special purposes. Despite the Commission’s efforts to create a comprehensive law to regulate the production and sale of foodstuffs intended for infants and young children and of foodstuffs for special purposes, there remains the open question of incorporating foodstuffs for people intolerant to gluten, and milk drinks intended for young children, into the text of the proposed regulation. We must therefore continue to monitor very closely the development of knowledge in the area of the action of individual substances on the human body and be prepared to amend the current rules as and when necessary.

 
  
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  Richard Seeber (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I would also like to thank Ms de Lange for the work she has done on behalf of our group. While recognising the importance of the debate in relation to baby foods, we should not forget that there are also other population groups that are seriously affected. When we consider the statistics, we can see that between 10 and 30 % of the European population suffers from lactose intolerance, 5 to 7 % from fructose malabsorption, 1 % from histamine intolerance and 1 % from coeliac disease. Doctors believe that the number of unreported cases is much higher.

The current legal framework we have here in Europe is difficult to interpret, firstly for the control bodies and secondly for the companies that produce these foods. It is even more difficult – particularly for consumers – to find the right product. The variety of products has increased dramatically in recent years and decades: just think, for example, of the various protein bars that are now available to aid muscle development in athletes. Other examples include food supplements for expectant mothers, foods enriched with calcium and vitamin C for older people, and, in particular, the wide variety of diet products on offer that promise weight loss within a few weeks.

The legal framework currently available to us encompasses four different directives and regulations, such as the directive on foods for special diets, for starter and follow-on foods for babies, low calorie foods, and so on. For this reason we need to think about how we can take a unified approach. This proposal should provide such a unified approach, because it shows that labelling must be transparent for consumers, that businesses must be clear about what their labels should say and, above all, that the authorities can verify compliance. This means we can achieve a win-win situation and create an internal market in this area, which we have unfortunately so far failed to achieve on account of the differing national interpretations.

 
  
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  Åsa Westlund (S&D).(SV) Mr President, I share the view of many of my fellow Members that this is an important piece of legislation for protecting particularly vulnerable consumers on the market. I therefore also think it is good that we are including gluten in this legislation. It will also make it easier for those who are gluten intolerant to travel in Europe and find the food they need.

I would also like to say that I would have gladly voted in favour of Mr Schlyter’s Amendment 84, but I will not be doing so as a result of the compromise that we have arrived at with the other groups, which also involves a stricter regulation of pesticides.

I will also be voting in favour of Amendment 86. Since Ms de Lange thinks that someone needs to have had young children recently in order to be able to vote on this, I can say that I have two children, and I both breast fed them and gave them both infant formula 1 and infant formula 2. I know how similar the packaging looks. Why is it, then, that they are almost identical, in that the numbers look almost the same and they have the same colours? Well, it is because the company wants to get round this prohibition of advertising milk for infants by advertising its follow-on product, namely product number 2. It is simply a way for the market to avoid the prohibition we have in place, and this shows that we must extend this prohibition. I have even bought the wrong product by mistake myself, so similar are the products at present.

 
  
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  Christa Klaß (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Dalli, ladies and gentlemen, we expect the highest standards from our foodstuffs. This is particularly the case in relation to the food we feed our babies and infants. Here we are concerned not just with the preservation of life and health, but also with growth and development. We should err on the side of caution here and avoid all apparent risks. Manufacturers have to stake their reputation on their products and every mistake is punished by the consumer through the market.

It must be possible to measure every limit value. We have already put in place a strict European regulation in the area of plant protection, which came into force last summer. European regulations in relation to residues from plant protection products are based on detection limits and are several times lower than the levels that can actually cause harm. There is no test method in the world that can establish what products were used to treat a plant during its growth cycle if there is no residue in the crops themselves.

The European Parliament has established the precautionary principle and has set down special protections for the sensitive groups, in particular infants and small children. This is something upon which we can build. We struggled in committee to come up with the right wording. I hope that we will also live up to our responsibilities in the plenary sitting.

I would like particularly to thank the rapporteur, Ms Ries, and our shadow rapporteur, Ms de Lange, for their excellent work. We also need to accept that children over the age of one can enjoy a healthy and sufficient diet by sharing in the food at the family table. That is something we should also once again acknowledge as important.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I want to congratulate the rapporteurs on the compromises reached in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as they strengthen the Committee’s proposal by ensuring greater protection for vulnerable groups of consumers and an increase in the information provided.

The exclusion of gluten-free products in the initial proposal is a prime example. It would have penalised a continually growing group of people affected by an illness caused by intolerance to an allergen, which does not allow them a complete and balanced diet able to provide an adequate nutritional profile to ensure physical well-being.

In future negotiations with the Council a cross-cutting regulation may be proposed in conjunction with regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. In this case the generic term ‘gluten-free’ must appear with the term ‘suitable for coeliacs’ to make a clear distinction between products free from allergens and those for proper nutrition.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D).(DE) Mr President, Mr Dalli, this regulation achieves a great deal of what we are looking for, namely greater security for producers, safety for consumers and a range of control options. The Food Labelling Regulation is a first step in improving freedom of choice in the food market. Yet, there is a whole group of consumers who, because of their medical needs, do not have the same freedom of choice in the market. We need crystal-clear rules for these people, whether cancer patients or those suffering from metabolic disorders, offering them absolute certainty.

As we have already heard several times today, however, we also need safety for the youngest members of our society, namely infants. The excessive pressure on parents from advertising can sometimes mean that they make decisions that may not be in the best interests of their babies. People should be free to choose between breastfeeding and formula. This decision must be based on facts, however, and should not be made solely on the basis of advertising pressure. I can only concur with Ms Willmott in relation to follow-on milk products.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I welcomed Ms Ries’ report, and therefore the proposal for a regulation aimed at amending and supplementing the rules on food intended for infants and young children and on food for special medical purposes, as this text should allow Europe to establish a clearer and more coherent legal framework.

Firstly, I would like to highlight the obligation to provide full, objective information on food products. One very sensitive case is the question of advertising for formulae for infants aged 0 to six months and formulae for infants aged six months to two years.

The facts show that advertising practices tend to concern parents by using marketing strategies rather than providing them with information of a scientific and factual nature, allowing consumers to make a clear distinction in order to avoid any risk of confusion. This lack of clarity represents a danger to the health of our children, a danger which must be avoided by using stricter controls.

Lastly, I think that the report could have provided for more effective evaluation mechanisms. This evaluation should not be carried out a priori, only taking into consideration the consumers the products are aimed at, but on the basis of a careful and comprehensive evaluation of all the ingredients in the product in question.

 
  
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  Judith A. Merkies (S&D).(NL) Mr President, I would like to thank the rapporteur for these outstanding proposals. It was high time that we had an improvement. As has already been said here, innovations in the food field sometimes outpace the legislation. It is thus a good thing that we regularly pay attention to such matters, and certainly so given the fact that there are more and more people with all kinds of allergies and special needs. There is a real need for us to have a finger on the pulse here.

Of course, vulnerable groups and, as I mentioned earlier, allergy sufferers also need special consideration. It is not the case that it is always that easy to read. We have just been discussing follow-on milk; the packaging is almost identical, and even if there is a large 1, 2 or 3 on the packaging, parents buy items like this quickly, and I, too, have found myself confused on various occasions about what I need to grab, whether in relation to follow-on milk or other products.

That needs to improve and it needs to be clearer – information, I mean, including on the packaging. It may be that we need to move to a different kind of packaging, so that it is clear to parents and to people with special needs what exactly they are buying. Advertisements also have a very important role to play here, too, of course. I believe, however, that we really must tackle this this time, as misleading claims are still too often made in advertisements. In the Netherlands we even have a special prize for this, known as the Golden Wind Egg. Perhaps we could also introduce a European Golden Wind Egg for this purpose.

I will just very quickly make one more point. I would like to draw your attention to nanotechnology, which is also increasingly cropping up in specialist food products, but also in other food products. Developments here are moving very quickly, and I believe that it is now very much time that we pay attention to this in the very near future, including in respect of vulnerable groups.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Anja Weisgerber (PPE). (DE) Mr President, the average consumer has complete freedom to choose products in the supermarket and to consume them afterwards. The provisions of the Food Labelling Regulation are sufficient for this. Certain groups, such as infants and small children, require particular protection when it comes to composition and labelling, however.

As a mother of a one-year-old daughter who breast-fed her child for seven months, I am very pleased that milk replacement products can no longer be advertised with euphemistic images suggesting that these products might even be better than breast milk. I also welcome the fact that follow-on milk is once again to be examined, as I also decided against using this milk. It tastes sweet and actually encourages the child to prefer such products, so that in the future it will not drink conventional milk.

People who suffer from gluten intolerance need special foods if they are to avoid serious complications, such as bowel cancer. It is for this reason that I also believe it important to maintain a high standard of protection here. This is only possible by incorporating gluten intolerance in the regulation. This includes, for example, provisions requiring that the foods for these patients should provide the same amount of vitamins and minerals as the foods they replace. It is vital that this protection standard is maintained.

 
  
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  Toine Manders (ALDE).(NL) Mr President, I would like to thank Ms Ries for her outstanding work. It is highly positive that there is now, in sometimes confusing situations, to be an improvement in order to protect – or better protect – vulnerable groups. It is also positive that more attention is being given to small and medium-sized enterprises in the food industry. I would also like to point out, however, that information on the labels alone is not a catch-all cure. In the past, people were a lot more involved with food, and in those days children were also much more informed about what was good for them.

I would actually like to ask the Commission to focus more on food education in schools and also on providing children with food education in other ways. Nowadays, children often no longer know how food originates, what is good for them and what is healthy. I believe that we must get the industry involved on a voluntary basis so that it not only makes commercials to extol its products, but it also plays a part in educating children in order to make it clear what is healthy for them, as that is better for everyone in the long term. I know that the Commission is passionate about this and I hope that initiatives will be forthcoming very quickly that will ultimately result in a healthier society.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Mr President, because, as we know, the digestive tract of newborns is only capable of killing off germs ingested in food after two or three months, requirements in relation to the hygiene and quality of baby food must be particularly stringent. It is a particular feature of our hi-tech, science-dominated times, however, that parents often find themselves confused. As a father of five children, I know this from personal experience. Different sides express different opinions about breastfeeding, which is without doubt the perfect way to feed babies, and whether, when and how infants should be given starter foods, follow-on foods and solids.

There is little we can do about this uncertainty, as parents need to decide for themselves what suits their needs and what they believe is right. It is doubtless important that the EU should ban all advertising that aims to discourage mothers from breastfeeding. That should not be allowed.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D).(DE) Mr President, Mr Dalli, I would like to add another request. We are discussing the multiannual action programme on public health, which is currently under scrutiny. I would wish to avoid the name ‘health for growth’ but would prefer to refer to it as ‘health for all’, focusing on health literacy. After all, labels, ingredients lists and other information are of little use if the population, in other words the consumer, does not really know about the health implications of the various foodstuffs on offer and is unaware of their own personal dietary needs.

I would implore you to approach this issue with particular urgency. We need health literacy, not just in relation to foodstuffs, but also in the entire health sector.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE).(SV) Mr President, I was, in fact, speaking in somewhat simplified terms earlier with regard to this matter of growing milk, follow-on formulae, formulae and so on, as there is a third category, and therefore we need a broad advertising ban. Otherwise, this third category, which also has very similar packaging, could also mislead consumers. Moreover, it should not be called ‘growing milk’ or anything like that. It should be called ‘dried cows’ milk with additives’; that is what it is, and so that is what we should call it.

It is also not good for us to have a special category for sports food or meal replacements. Both of these ought to be covered by the usual health claims legislation and, therefore, we in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance have proposed that we should remove these categories along with the study on sports milk, and instead include them in the normal health claims legislation. There is currently a great deal of misleading marketing where sports drinks are concerned.

 
  
 

(End of the catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  John Dalli, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I am pleased to know that the House shares similar views with the Commission on the importance of protecting the most vulnerable groups within the population. Let me make some comments on three issues which were raised during this debate.

With respect to the issue of specific rules for growing-up milks, I have to acknowledge that different views exist on whether or not these products are needed to satisfy the nutritional requirements of young children. I thus see a need to consult EFSA to clarify the nutritional needs of young children. I can thus support the preparation of a report on this issue. I am also willing to look into the issues of advertising as raised by Mrs Willmott and others.

On pesticides, the relevant legislation has recently been reviewed and already takes into account vulnerable groups, including children. I agree totally that the use of pesticides in products intended for infants and young children should be restricted as far as possible. Indeed, the existing specific legislation on products intended for infants and young children already sets extremely low levels for pesticides – so low that they are de facto prohibitive. On this point, we can accept such amendments to the basic act as are consistent with existing rules.

I have to make one point: we have to make a difference between the application and the presence of pesticides. If we restrict ourselves to prohibiting application of pesticides, we will be trying to avoid the presence of pesticides on green fields from now on without really covering the contaminated fields which already exist and on which food intended for infants can be cultivated. Therefore, our concentration should be on the presence of pesticides in food, rather than the application of pesticides, because this will also cover any food grown on fields which has been contaminated in the past.

On the issue of gluten-free foods, I believe that we have to remove the perception that our proposal in any way reduces protection for coeliacs. On the contrary, we are increasing protection for coeliacs by maintaining the compositional and labelling rules as they are and transferring those rules to a more appropriate legal text on food information for consumers, which will protect coeliacs in relation to both non-packed and packed foods.

In addition, this constitutes better regulation and simplification, as a transfer to the Food Information for Consumers (FIC) Regulation would ensure that all information related to gluten is covered by the same piece of legislation, since the FIC Regulation already covers the labelling of the presence of gluten in the list of ingredients.

Therefore, I believe that broadening the scope of the food on which the gluten element is to be indicated will be more beneficial to coeliacs than if restricted to packed foods.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries, rapporteur.(FR) Mr President, I have some concluding remarks.

I would like to thank all of the speakers who took the floor and from whom I gather there is general support for the overall compromises we reached in committee. There were, of course – and I heard them, along with the Commission – colours, tones, priorities which we are aware of and which vary depending on the groups or individuals in question.

Some important issues were mentioned here: gluten-free food – the Commissioner has just returned to this point so I will return to it as well – labelling and advertising, questions on the added value of follow-on milk, the famous GUMS (growing-up milks), which Ms de Lange and Mr Schlyter mentioned. We have heard their concerns; I share them myself. We will come back to them.

Then, the question of pesticides came up repeatedly, particularly in Ms Klaß’s speech: this is – as the Commissioner has just said – the linchpin of the overall, horizontal legislation which we all worked on together several months ago, and we have focused here on the even more ambitious, more precise and more specific needs of the groups concerned. However, we did it together precisely so that the texts would be coherent with the horizontal legislation.

I would just like to talk about something which was not mentioned, perhaps because the Danish Presidency is not here, and that is the lack of agreement at first reading. The failure of this attempt is also to some extent the fault of the Presidency, but it is also perhaps because we are discovering the limitations of this fast track procedure.

It is a method that we have used far too much since the beginning of this mandate, since 2009, and one in which Parliament and Parliament’s ambitions are not always taken into account, in my view. I therefore still believe that our decision to go to the vote and, indeed, to make a fresh start for a second reading – which I hope will be quick – is still the right decision.

I will finish with the two major disagreements with the Commission, which I noted when listening to the Commissioner.

The first is the question of gluten-free products. There are many of us here – the majority in fact – who think that returning to the ‘food information to consumers’ legislation will not be enough. That goes beyond the question of labelling. For us, Article 36 of the Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers is not enough in terms of quality, safety and composition. However, we will come back to that.

With regard to the question of delegated acts – you mentioned that at the very beginning, Commissioner – we, as Parliament, still want to be involved in any decision, through our right to scrutiny, for example, on amendments to the famous Union list. We are therefore holding firm on the question of delegated acts, but these are issues that are open.

I hope that we will return to this very quickly with our Cypriot friends.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing.(RO) After well over 30 years, the regulations on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses, as stipulated in Framework Directive 2009/39/EC, no longer respond to the needs of consumers and the latest developments on the market. We need a legislative framework which will provide citizens with a high level of food safety, especially in the case of products intended for vulnerable sections of the population such as infants, young children and people with particular conditions. European citizens must be properly informed when they choose what they eat, and when they opt for a healthy, balanced diet, they must not be misled.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing.(RO) The European Union has always had a legislative framework model for foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses which has been held in very high regard. However, it has been noticed recently that the development of both the food market and food legislation requires a major overhaul. I think that applying, on a general basis, the concept of ‘foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses’, which this framework directive is based on, while the market environment is changing, has given rise to significant problems not only for stakeholders, but also for the controlling authorities. Food safety, especially in the case of foods intended for vulnerable sections of the population, such as infants, young children and people with particular conditions, is an essential prerequisite for their movement and for the proper functioning of the internal market within the European Union. Therefore, I believe that a European solidarity policy is required comprising legislative measures to remove these discrepancies between national laws on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses, thereby allowing their free movement and creating a level competitive playing field.

 
  
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  Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The report on food intended for infants and young children and on food for special medical purposes is aimed a revising and clarifying the rules for these foods in the European market. At present, on the basis of the current regulations, it is usually impossible to tell the difference in shops between food for normal consumption and food for young children, food for diabetics or other diets, or for top sports players. Milk products marked ‘for children’ often have much more sugar than other similar products, and sweetened fruit juices ‘for children’ contain quantities of colorants, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Since these are only promotional product labels and the marking ‘for children’ does not have any binding European legislative framework, producers can cheat consumers with clever advertising. The EU must use legislation to encourage producers to supply food that is free of pesticides and other toxic substances. Infants, young children, the elderly and diabetics are particularly at risk, even from small quantities of toxins or chemicals in food. Other consumers should also be able to make a conscious choice for healthier foods. Foods must have visible and accurate information about their ingredients on the packaging. Formulations such as ‘no added glutamate’ or ‘no added preservatives’ say nothing about the quantity and content of unhealthy substances in foods. Regular monitoring of compliance with the rules should be an essential component.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) One of the main objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy is to achieve a 75% employment rate among people aged 20-64 years by 2020. Unemployment in the EU is at historic highs. Almost 24.5 million people are out of work. This is more than 10% of the economically active population. National governments must take measures to boost economic growth, create new jobs and maintain sound public finances. The EU must be equipped with a broader and more effective set of policy instruments to ensure its future prosperity and a high standard of living for its population. The economic recovery plan implemented in 2008 helped to mitigate the shocks caused by the economic downturn in our economies. Coordinated support was provided to the Member States that needed it, and measures were also put in place to protect the stability of the economic and monetary union. I firmly believe that the EU needs a well-defined policy approach that will promote economic recovery, restore the health of public finances and, above all, actively promote sustainable growth and jobs. In the effort to escape the crisis, however, job creation is one of the most pressing problems. It is certainly our duty to promote employment and help people find work, as is strengthening the coordination of our economic policies, which are absolutely essential for the new sustainable growth programme.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing.(IT) Unfortunately this is not the first time that the Commission has risked depriving European citizens of important tools to protect their health for the sake of simplifying current legislation. In this case, we would not have been able to accept that the revision of the legislation on special food did not include products created specifically for people with coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is not a ‘trend’; it is an illness that affects 1.1% of European consumers. The only recognised treatment to date is a gluten-free diet, which can only be guaranteed with a precise regulatory framework and strict control of products. Coeliacs must strictly exclude this substance from their diet for their whole lives and need true ‘substitutes’ for foods which contain gluten. The replacements must have an equivalent dietary profile and taste in order to compensate for nutritional deficiencies and guarantee a balanced nutritional intake. I hope therefore that the Council accepts Parliament’s request and starts a constructive discussion for the second reading of this important piece of legislation, so the expected legislative simplification does not merely have the effect of trivialising this illness.

 
  
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  Jolanta Emilia Hibner (PPE), in writing.(PL) The Ries report has fulfilled its primary objective by providing consumers with the appropriate information on food for special medical purposes and food intended for infants and young children. We have managed to achieve greater clarity in the qualification and labelling of foodstuffs that are of key significance for certain groups of the population, such as infants and young children, as well as patients requiring special diets. Particularly valuable are provisions which incorporate into the regulation gluten-free food and food used in low and very low calorie diets, as well as the exclusion from the composition of categories of foods of any substances that are liable to be harmful to the health of the groups of population concerned. Provisions concerning foods intended for low birth weight or premature infants who cannot be fed breastmilk or standard infant formulas are particularly significant. Such foodstuffs will have to comply with the criteria applied to food for special medical purposes. The recommendation to limit pesticide residues in food for infants and young children is another significant change.

The implementation of these provisions will have implications for food business operators producing this type of food, since change to labelling will be necessary. The Commission has provided for transition periods during which it will be possible to use packaging labelled in accordance with the current regulations. This report will help make European society healthier, reduce administrative burdens and contribute to fair competition between businesses throughout the European Union.

 
  
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  Jaromír Kohlíček (GUE/NGL), in writing. (CS) I read with astonishment that the European Parliament agrees with the opinion incorporated by the Commission into the explanatory statement that people with diabetes should have the healthiest possible diet, and that there is no scientific basis for stipulating special food requirements for these people. As someone who knows at least a bit about the matter, I almost fell over after reading this. I think it is as absurd as the other statements concerning other diets which exclude specific types of substances from food that is suitable for people who have to follow these diets. In my view, the regulation therefore fails to meet the basic requirements which people with specific restrictions expect from such legislation. It is good that food for infants and young children is specified. It is also right that people who have a gluten-free diet are mentioned. I cannot accept, however, that other groups of people who have very strict limits on certain elements in food are left out of the regulation. I hope the Member States will make a suitable response.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) Formerly a niche market, the ‘special diet’ sector has grown significantly in recent years. It is often difficult to differentiate between normal and ‘vitamin-enriched’ foodstuffs for certain target groups. A number of important points need to be made in relation to baby foods. We need top quality foods that adhere to animal protection principles, a ban on pesticides, particularly in products of animal origin, such as milk, as well as stricter controls on advertising. Parents often feel coerced into buying a particular product because advertising suggests – sometimes falsely – that otherwise their baby will not develop correctly. For this reason, such information must be approved by paediatricians or midwives. Finally, we also need democratic control by the European Parliament, particularly in relation to definitions and ingredients.

 
  
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  Valdemar Tomaševski (ECR), in writing.(PL) It is to be welcomed that the issue of food intended for infants and young children and food for special medical purposes has been considered in such detail by the European Parliament.

Protecting children and sick people and ensuring their safety and welfare must remain the objective of our work. It is therefore unacceptable that the current EU legislation allows pesticide residues to be present in infant formulas and in foods for children under three years of age. Allowing children to consume toxic products, especially at such an early stage of development, can have irreversible harmful effects. Pesticides for which the highest acceptable residue levels were approved in the directives adopted in 2006 and which do not comply with safety criteria should be categorically withdrawn from the market and should not be used in the production of food covered by the regulation under discussion. As a matter of urgency, we should also apply the ban on the use of pesticides in foods of animal origin, such as milk, and introduce a requirement for stringent production checks, especially on food intended for young children.

There is a further important issue concerning food for special medical purposes which has not been clarified in the proposed regulation, and which concerns the 32 million Europeans who suffer from diabetes. Unfortunately, the regulation does not provide an appropriate legal framework for foodstuffs intended for persons suffering from diabetes. This primarily involves introducing mandatory and EU-wide harmonised labelling of food products describing their composition in terms of the risk they pose to the health of persons suffering from diabetes.

 
Last updated: 18 December 2012Legal notice