New EU Food Rules Aim at Breast-Feeding Foes

     (CN) – EU lawmakers approved new rules against labeling infant formula in a way that discourages breast-feeding or advertising it in that manner.
     The new regulation provides a framework that attempts to differentiate between legislation applicable to “normal” food from food that is intended to reach specific types of populations that are considered more vulnerable, such as infants, children and individuals with special medical needs.
     Initially proposed on June 24, 2011, the regulation focuses on four main categories of food that affect specific populations: infant and follow-on formula; processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children; foods for special medical purposes; and total daily diet foods for weight control.
     The Cyprus presidency reached the deal with representatives of the European Parliament on Nov. 14, and the Council of the European Union approved it Thursday.
     The Council of the European Union said it and the European Parliament acted within the ongoing objective for “free movement of safe and wholesome food as an essential aspect of the internal market,” with the recognition that any new food regulations “contributes significantly to the health and well-being of citizens and to their social and economic interests.”
     Infant formula and follow-on formula can no longer use any type of labeling or advertising to discourage breast-feeding, according to the rule. It also forbids pictures of infants that idealize the use of these categories.
     The new regulation also lays down rules on the composition and preparation of these foods.
     This component considers the growing rate of people who are overweight or obese who are looking for products that are considered low calorie or diet foods.
     With public health in mind, it offers the commission the authority to “adopt delegated acts to establish specific compositional and informational requirements” for foods captured within the four categories, according to a statement from the council.
     The European Parliament and the council did not come to an acceptable conclusion regarding food that is consumed by “sportsmen” who need food to meet the expenditure of “intense muscular effort,” according to the proposed regulation.
     In this area, the lawmakers felt that there was not enough supporting scientific data, and that there were too many diverging opinions among members and other stakeholders.
     The regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
     The main provisions of the new regulation must be applied three years after its entry into force. Delegated acts that are adopted by the commission, and the remaining provisions, will be applicable from the date of entry.
     Foods that comply with the new regulation may be placed on the market without restrictions from member states.

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