14 February 2014
Using its right of scrutiny under the delegated acts procedure, the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment (ENVI) rejected, on 12 February, with 31 votes in favour, 23 against and two abstentions, the European Commission's proposal for a new definition of engineered nanomaterials. In a cross-party resolution drafted by Christa Klass (EPP, Germany), Asa Westlund (S&D, Sweden), Frédérique Ries (ALDE, Belgium), Carl Schlyter (Greens-EFA, Sweden) and Kartika Tamara Liotard (GUE-NGL, Netherlands), MEPs criticised the Commission's proposal for exempting a long list of food additives from the labelling obligation. They also rejected its proposal for a nano-particles threshold of 50% for an ingredient to qualify as nano', saying that it is too low.
The European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) welcomed ENVI's decision. “The EU's food labelling law will oblige producers to declare when their foods contain nanoparticles so that consumers can decide for themselves whether or not to buy such products. The Commission's ill-advised proposal would limit their right to be properly informed,” Monique Goyens, director-general of BEUC, said in a statement.
The Commission's delegated act on a new definition of engineered nanomaterials is part of the finishing touches to the food information regulation (FIR), adopted in 2011 and applicable from 13 December 2014. Under the FIR, all ingredients present in the form of engineered nanomaterials must be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients. The names of such ingredients must be followed by the word 'nano' in brackets. However, food additives that are covered by the definition and referred to in the Union list in Article 4 of the regulation are not considered “engineered nanomaterials”.