Gillian Waddell Reports: New EU Novel Foods and Supplements Investigation Highlights The Need for Brand Compliance
A recent month-long investigation by EU member states has identified over 400 unauthorised novel foods marketed online in Europe, something that’s expected to prompt nations to become more active in encouraging E-commerce integrity among online brands. In the first extensive investigation of its type by the EU, the initiative searched over 1000 websites across the 25 member states (in addition to Norway and Switzerland) – identifying 428 offers of illegal novel foods, 351 food supplements making medicinal claims and 779 products for sale that were non-compliant under EU law. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has already responded by creating a cross-agency working group, designed to promote tighter compliance by online brands.
EU Novel Food Investigation Highlights Unregulated Ingredients
The European Commission’s campaign to persuade EU member states to promote E-commerce compliance, has revealed an extensive list of unauthorised ingredients being targeted – including Agmantine guanidine sulfate (often found in workout supplements), the weight loss nutrient, Acacia rigidula and Epimedium grandiflorum, an ingredient marketed as a male aphrodisiac. The investigation also looked out for websites offering misleading statements and particularly the marketing of food supplements making claims of preventing, treating or curing bone and joint diseases, or using disease-related terms, images or icons.
Four unauthorised ingredients highlighted:
· Agmantine (4-aminobutyl) guanidine sulfate – a popular workout ingredient
· Acacia rigidula – a weight loss dietary supplement
· Epimedium grandiflorum – sold as a male aphrodisiac
· Hoodia gordonii – claimed to suppress appetite
Food Safety Authorities Respond to EU Investigation
The implications of the investigation, were revealed by Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI): “The high number of non-compliant offers is a clear sign that e-commerce control across Europe needs to be strengthened. Whether purchasing from a physical store or online, consumers have the right to buy safe food which does not mislead.”
Byrne added that FSAI has responded by creating a cross-agency working group to ensure tighter compliance of online brands – something expected across Europe: “Inspectors are putting more focus on reviewing the online activity of food businesses. We continue to cooperate with our colleagues in other Member States regarding online sales of non-compliant food via the European Commission and also fully participate in working groups at EU level.”
Her advice for food companies is to analyse the information revealed by the EU investigation and ensure brand compliance: “I strongly encourage all food businesses to take the time to read this information and revise their online offers, as necessary….businesses selling food online must abide by the same rules as their bricks and mortar counterparts.”
Stephen Pugh, Head of Food Labelling at DEFRA, suggests the report reaffirms the need for brands to ensure their products contain fully-authorised ingredients when it comes to selling novel food products and supplements on the internet
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