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Commissioner Byrne pleased with Council political agreement on sweeteners

Commission Européenne - IP/03/705   19/05/2003

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IP/03/705

Brussels, 19 May 2003

Commissioner Byrne pleased with Council political agreement on sweeteners

The Competitiveness Council today reached political agreement supporting the European Commission proposal to allow the use of two new intense sweeteners (sucralose and an aspartame-acesulfame salt) within the European Union and to reduce the use of the sweetener cyclamate.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, thanked the Council for its support: "As with all proposals to authorise food additives, the Commission's proposals on sweeteners are based on sound scientific safety assessments and they are made in the interest of consumer protection. I welcome the Council's support to move this proposal forward."

The authorisation and use of intense sweeteners, like any other food additive, is harmonised at EU level(1), which means that the same rules apply in all Member States. In accordance with EU legislation, food additives can only be permitted in the EU if they are safe, necessary from the technological point of view and if they are useful for the consumer. The Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), an independent committee advising the Commission on questions concerning consumer health and food safety, sets Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) levels, defined as the amount of a food additive that a human can ingest daily over a lifetime without incurring any appreciable health risks.

Before the Commission proposed to allow the two sweeteners, their safety was established by the SCF. The SCF opinions on sucralose and the aspartame-acesulfame salt can be found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scf/out68_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scf/out57_en.html

see point 9.4

The SCF also re-evaluated the sweetener cyclamate. Although the new epidemiological data revealed no indications of harmful effects of cyclamate on humans, scientific evidence showed that the conversion rate of cyclamate in the body is higher than previously thought, so the SCF decided to lower the ADI for this substance from 11 to 7 mg/kg bodyweight. The Commission proposal to ban its use in food categories like chewing gums and ice cream and to reduce it in soft seeks to ensure that the intake of cyclamates stays below the revised ADI.

The Council political agreement follows the Commission amended proposal in deciding to reduce the use of this sweetener in soft drinks even further and to extend this reduction to juice and milk-based drinks.

Next steps

Having reached political agreement today, the Council will formally adopt a common position at a later meeting. The proposal will then have to go back to the European Parliament for a second reading.

Further information:

Food additives web site of the Directorate General Health and Consumer Protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sfp/addit_flavor/additives/index_en.html

(1)The legislative framework for the approval of sweeteners in the EU is the following:The framework directive 89/107/EEC on food additives provides for the harmonisation of Member States legislation, sets out the procedures and criteria of the authorisation of food additives.The sweeteners Directive 94/35/EC lays down which sweeteners are authorised in which foodstuffs, and under what conditions. With the present proposal, this Directive is amended for the second time since its adoption in 1994.


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