Comments on the Commission Draft Regulation on the application of codes of good practice to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food

Date

26 Sep 2016

Sections

Agriculture & Food
Health & Consumers

To:
Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans

CC: Xavier Prats Monné, Director-General of DG SANTÉ (Health and Food Safety); Members of the European Parliament ENVI, IMCO and AGRI Committees; Permanent Representations of the EU Member States.

 

Brussels, 16th September 2016

Subject: comments on the Commission Draft Regulation on the application of codes of good practice to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food 

SAFE- safe food advocacy Europe, CEO - Corporate Europe Observatory and WeMove.EU welcome the much-needed initiative of DG  SANTE to adopt measures to reduce the levels of acrylamide in food. However, we believe that the Draft Regulation developed by DG SANTE will not reduce the presence of acrylamide in food and, worse, may prevent individual initiatives by EU Member States to more seriously reduce citizens’ exposure to acrylamide through food. 

Acrylamide is a chemical compound which naturally forms during most high-temperature cooking processes (frying, roasting, and baking). Due to the simple nature of this chemical, acrylamide is present in numerous everyday food products as well as most industrial and commercial cooking methods. Taking into account standard diet composition and body weight information, children are the age group most exposed to acrylamide.

Instead of identifying a binding maximum level of acrylamide for different food categories, the Draft Regulation refers to Indicative Values that are not mandatory and higher than those foreseen by the industries, other MS (Germany and Denmark) and published by the European Food Safety Authority in 2012. This soft approach has been adopted since 2007 and has failed to reduce acrylamide levels in food. 

The draft Regulation also proposes a mandatory application of a code of practice on acrylamide but without setting up provisions on how such application is to be enforced.

It is deplorable that such an important dossier is being managed by the European Commission via a “targeted/accelerated consultation” over the month of August involving mainly the food industry, and that the only actual measure foreseen by the Draft Regulation is to ask food operators to implement codes of practice developed by the food industry itself. 

We urge the European Commission to propose a Draft Regulation which will:

  • really reduce citizens’ exposure to acrylamide in food, with a legally binding  maximum level of acrylamide for different food categories which is lower than the proposed Indicative Values (the Denmark experience constitutes an example of lower values). The Indicative Values need to be considered maximum admissible levels, pending further research, and Member States must be given the freedom to adopt stricter measures if they prefer. 
  • Develop a code of best practices that is based on the work of public food safety authorities rather than exclusively using material developed by lobby groups representing the food industry’s interests.
  • Give a clear role to the National Food Safety Agencies in different MS to control and monitor the application of the maximum binding level of acrylamide.

For more details, please see the Annex to this letter.

We thank you for your time and attention and would be glad to discuss our position with you in more detail. 

Yours sincerely,