The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has warned high consumption of ‘food supplements based on pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA)-producing plants’ could result in exposure levels causing ‘short-term toxicity resulting in adverse health effects’. EFSA points specifically to frequent and high consumption of tea and herbal infusions, warning exposure to PA is a long-term concern for human health ‘due to their potential carcinogenicity’. The agency has updated its 2011 advice on the risks for human and animal health from PA, and identified a further 17 pyrrolizidine alkaloids in food and feed that should ‘continue to be monitored’ and recommended further studies on the toxicity and carcinogenicity of those most commonly found in food. The panel of experts established a new Reference Point (RP) of 237 micrograms per kilogram per bodyweight per day.
The European Commission has granted eight European Member States the right to file a lawsuit against China for 25 protected trademarks they claim are being ‘maliciously used in food marketing’ as these trademarks are ‘homonymous with EU geographical indications’. These trademarks, registered in China, include items like ‘Greek feta’ and ‘Italian balsamic vinegar’. This lawsuit comes after Brussels and Beijing agreed to publish a list of European and Chinese geographical indications to be considered for protection through a bilateral agreement—the list includes all of those mentioned in the lawsuit. Greek trade officials are concerned ‘Chinese owners will have the right to either produce domestically or import homonymous counterfeit products from the whole of the world’. European Union geographical indications are worth €54.3 billion and account for 15 percent of total EU food and drinks exports.
A report has warned Brexit represents a serious risk to businesses and workers in the food sector and warns about ‘less safe and nutritious products’ as a coherent governmental food policy appears to be lacking still. The report issued a series of recommendations for the key issues named, and is calling for pressure on government to publish ‘policy commitment to a low-impact, health-oriented UK food system’.
EFSA has published an update to its reference intakes for riboflavin or vitamin B2, recommending 1.6 mg per day for adults and between 0.7 and 1.4 mg for children, dependent on age. The panel said the revisions are due to the availability of new scientific data since the previous values were published in 1993.
The United Arab Emirates will impose a ‘sin tax’ on soft drinks and energy drinks from October 1 to ‘help build a healthier and safer society’, designed to ‘discourage the consumption of products that negatively impact the environment…and people’s health.’ While the tax will concern distribution companies in the UAE, the economic impact of improving health could benefit the country, as ‘the revenues it generates will go towards supporting advanced services for all members of society.’ The annual economic burden of obesity in the UAE is Dh22 billion (€5 billion)—a study found the obesity rate in the UAE is double the world average, with more than 66 percent of men and 60 per cent of women already overweight or obese.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has released a consultation paper on all infant formula products, expanding its review to assess infant formula, and ‘seeking input for all interested parties.’ ‘FSANZ is looking at clarifying some standards, bringing them up-to-date with the latest scientific evidence and is considering alignment with international regulations. FSANZ welcomes comments from all members of the community, government agencies, public health professionals and industry.’ Submissions are open until 28 September.
A new certification programme has been developed by a team of female professionals for food manufacturing companies to demonstrate their products are palm-oil free. The International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP) has been approved by regulators in Australia and the UK, and a further 14 countries have applications pending for the scheme. POFCAP is the first certification scheme to certify a product does not contain palm oil, and comes as consumers demand transparency over the use of palm oil and its derivatives. The team stresses the certification is product-based, meaning companies selling products containing palm oil can apply for certification for the products in their range without palm oil.