Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
125. Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the need to provide consumers with more information on food products produced using novel technologies and associated benefits in order to provide them with the knowledge to make more informed food choice decisions and to increase consumer acceptance on the basis that strategic reviews of the Irish food industry have consistently emphasised the need for companies to invest in their technological and marketing capabilities to manage risk in new product development and increase value added levels; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21967/10]
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): EU food labelling requirements look to provide consumers with the information needed to make informed choices and to make safe use of food. A key principle underlying the labelling of food is that the purchaser must not be misled. The information on the label must be clear and unambiguous and must not be such as could mislead the consumer to a material degree.
Novel foods and the use of novel technologies in food production are governed by Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 1997 concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients. This regulation stipulates that any food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the EU prior to May 15, 1997 requires authorisation before being placed on the market. This Regulation also stipulates that prior authorisation is required where a novel process is used that gives rise to significant changes in the composition or structure of the food, which in turn affects the nutritional value, metabolism or level of undesirable substances. Additional labelling of novel foods may be stipulated in the authorisation as part of a risk management strategy without prejudice to general food labelling requirements. Where a company wishes to market a new food on the basis of proposed nutrition or health benefits, any related claims must be validated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in advance so that consumers’ interests are protected.
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