New Food Regulation adopted: R.I.P. ‘Parnuts’ and ‘Dietary Foods’

On 12 June 2013, the EU Parliament adopted a new Regulation 609/201311, regarding the rules governing the composition and labelling of baby food, food for special medical purposes and total diet replacement for weight control.

This Regulation replaces several other Regulations in order to simplify and clarify the rules regarding the labelling and composition of what is called ‘Foodstuffs for Particular Nutritional Uses' (PARNUTS).

Key changes and provisions:

• The concepts of ‘PARNUTS' and ‘Dietary Foods' which appeared to be open to differing interpretations by the national authorities are abolished. The new Regulation exclusively covers (1) food intended for infants and young children, (2) food for special medical purposes, and (3) total diet replacement for weight control.

Clearer definitions are provided by the Regulation. In order to ensure the uniform implementation of this Regulation, the Commission may decide whether a given food falls within the scope of this Regulation.

• This Regulation clearly excludes the labelling of gluten and lactose from its scope. These are thus to be covered by other legislation2. Please however note that the labelling related to the presence or absence of lactose is not harmonised at EU level.

• After consulting with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Commission shall submit a report by 20 July 2015 on the necessity, if any, of provisions for food intended for sportspeople.

• The new Regulation also calls on the Commission to assess whether the ‘growing-up' milks intended for toddlers actually provide ‘any nutritional benefits when compared to a normal diet for a child who is being weaned' and to propose any needed legislation. These products are not considered as food intended for infants and young children.

• As regards food for special medical purposes, the reference to the dietary management of diseases, disorders or medical conditions for which the food is intended is allowed. Such reference does not fall under the scope of the prohibition to attribute to a food properties of preventing, treating or curing a human disease.

Foods for weight control that are not a total diet replacement for weight control such as ‘meal replacement for weight control' fall outside the scope of the new Regulation and are to be covered by Regulation 1924/2006 on the nutrition and health claims made on food.

• The Commission is asked to ensure that the use of pesticides and pesticide residues in the foodstuffs covered by the new Regulation be reduced to a minimum.

• The existing lists of substances that may be added to these foodstuffs, such as vitamins and minerals, are merged in one single EU list.

The Regulation will apply on 20 July 2016.

1Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 of 12 June 2013 on food intended for infants and young children, food for special medical purposes, and total diet replacement for weight control and repealing Council Directive 92/52/EEC, Commission Directives 96/8/EC, 1999/21/EC, 2006/125/EC and 2006/141/EC, Directive 2009/39/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Regulations (EC) No 41/2009 and (EC) No 953/2009.

2Such as Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (applicable as from 13 December 2014) and Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods.