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Freshfel Europe calls for a fresh fruit and vegetable-in-all-policies approach

Freshfel Europe calls for a fresh fruit and vegetable-in-all-policies approach

On the 2nd of December, Freshfel Europe called for a fresh fruit and vegetables-in-all-policies approach in its presentation of its 2019-2024 priorities paper for the EU institutions ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future’ in the European Parliament. Freshfel Europe asked policy makers to help stimulate a higher level of fresh fruit and vegetable consumption as part of an integral shift to a low environmental impact plant-based diet to protect the planet and citizens’ health. Freshfel Europe indicated that this could only be achieved through increased support for the sector in the policy-making agenda over the next five years across Europe and at all levels of government in conjunction with sector initiatives.

During the evening reception Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard presented Freshfel Europe’s latest paper ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future: Freshfel Europe’s Priorities for the EU Institutions 2019-2024’ to Members of the European Parliament working on agricultural, environmental and trade issues and high-level European Commission officials. Mr Binard explained that “By helping better position the fresh fruit and vegetable sector policy makers will achieve forward-thinking coherent policy that will future-proof our planet and meet consumers’ expectations now and into 2030”. In his presentation Mr Binard also underlined that, “Fresh fruit and vegetables play a key role in Europe’s ambitions to protect the planet, provide healthy prosperous lifestyles to all and meet the Sustainable Development Goals. The beginning of this path is an ambitious and effective European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy that incorporates a fresh fruit and vegetables-in-all-policies approach”.

MEP Herbert Dorfmann opened the cocktail reception in the European Parliament welcoming guests and describing the importance of sustainable production in a modern world with a fast changing climate. Freshfel Europe President Stephan Weist also addressed participants asserting that actors across the EU fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain will continue to collaborate to ensure that Europe reaches the WHO recommended consumption intake of 400g of fruit and vegetables per capita per day. Mr Weist pointed out that, “21 Member States are currently not reaching this with the average consumption at 348g per capita per day. The fresh fruit and vegetable sector must be prioritized in the policy-making agenda so that these nutritious products remain an essential part of European consumers’ sustainable diet”.

Freshfel Europe’s ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future’ paper outlines the role of the sector in significantly contributing to a low-environmental impact future for Europe and the good health of European consumers. The paper details specific policy areas to tackle over the next five years, covering the CAP, intra-EU and global trade, the supply chain, circular economy, plant health, food safety, digitalization and health policy, to ensure that Europe is a global leader achieving a triple-win for the environment, the economy and consumer health. Freshfel Europe’s full paper ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future’ can be downloaded from the Freshfel Europe website here.


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Nanotechnology, cloning among sticky issues in ‘novel food’ law reform

Nanotechnology and cloning are among issues provoking most debate as the EU considers reform of its novel food regulation.

The exotic fruit juice Noni juice and a high pressure fruit juice – made using new production techniques – are examples of novel foods that have won approval to go on sale in the EU in recent years.

But according to a recent European Parliament briefing paper, the current authorisation process for novel foods is seen by the food industry as complex, expensive and time-consuming. As well, other stakeholders agree the current novel foods regulation, urgently needs updating to reflect scientific and technological advances.

A previous bid at revision, in 2008, failed due to disagreement over food derived from cloned animals. Questions related to cloning were therefore left out of the European Commission’s reform proposal in the 2013 which would make changes including the removal of the former novel food categories; centralisation of the authorisation process; a shift from applicant-based to generic authorisations; and simplification of procedure for traditional foods from third countries.

Interinstitutional trilogue negotiations started last December 2014 and the Committee of Member States’ Permanent Representatives (Coreper) approved the resulting compromise text on 10 June, with the EP’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) following suit on June 25. The text is now expected to be voted in plenary in October 2015.

According to the briefing paper, the issues which proved to be difficult to negotiate were nanotechnology, cloning and parliamentary scrutiny over the list of authorised novel foods.

It said the trilogue agreed that food from cloned animals would be retained under the Novel Foods Regulation during the transitional period until the two separate proposals currently being discussed come into force.

It also reached an agreement on nanotechnology, setting a 50% threshold content for nanoparticles to be defined as ‘nano’ but to be lowered progressively, through delegated acts, as advances in technology make it possible to detect smaller amounts.

The paper said nanotechnology is a field of applied sciences dealing with manipulation of matter at atomic and molecular scale (less than 100 nanometers). “This emerging technology could have important applications in the food and feed sector in the future. Nanotechnologies can be used in the food industry, for example in food packaging, or to improve taste of food, to reduce sugar or salt content or to slow down microbial activity.”

However, it also noted the potential risks of nanotechnology for food safety and public health are still hard to assess. “Some nanomaterials, for example, may have the potential to enter the human body through the skin or through mucous membranes (e.g. in the respiratory or alimentary tract), possibly causing health risks.”

It said there so far no accurate definition of nanomaterial in the EU. The European Commission recommended a definition of ‘nanomaterial’ as material where 50% or more of the particles are less than 100 nanometers in size, but EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority), in view of the current uncertainties, proposes that a lower nanoparticle threshold of 10% should be considered for food-related applications.

source: European Parliament briefing paper “Updating rules on novel foods to keep up with scientific advances”

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Vote today on EU clamp down on plastic carrier bags

Draft rules requiring EU countries to cut use of the most polluting plastic bags will be put to a vote in Strasbourg today

Draft rules requiring EU countries to cut use of the most polluting plastic bags will be put to a vote in Strasbourg today.

With pollution of water bodies and aquatic ecosystems a major environmental problem, the law would require EU member states to choose between two options:

  • take measures to ensure that average yearly consumption does not exceed 90 lightweight bags per citizen by 2019 and 40 by 2025, or
  • ensure that, by 2018, these bags are not handed to shoppers free of charge.

According to the European Parliament website, in 2010, every EU citizen used an estimated 198 plastic carrier bags, some 90% of which were lightweight. Estimates suggest more than eight billion plastic carrier bags became litter in the EU the same year.

Carrefour also seeking alternatives to plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables

French retail giant Carrefour said in its recently published 2014 annual report that it stopped handing out free plastic bags in 2012 in consolidated stores in all its countries except Argentina and Brazil, where the process is underway.

“In anticipation of future European regulations, the Group is working to identify alternatives to the plastic bags currently used for loose purchases of fruits and vegetables,” it also said.

source: EU Parliament

image: By Trosmisiek (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons