Views from Las Vegas

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... Or to be more specific views from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) show -- that wonderful US gathering of industry and scientists for...

... Or to be more specific views from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) show -- that wonderful US gathering of industry and scientists for the annual exhibition of new products, concepts and scientific developments in the food industry.

In among the expected subjects of obesity, low-carb, and the myriad of new flavours and ingredients at this year's IFT show, one issue continues to feature, which may have a legislative impact on us back here in the European Union (EU) -- the labelling of trans fatty acids.

In the US, it is still very much on the agenda to reduce trans fatty acid levels in foods as much as possible. This is being driven by the country's new labelling legislation which is to be fully implemented by the January 1, 2006. Food manufacturers will be required to indicate the level of trans fats in a product, and "low in trans fat" type claims may be made in compliance with various criteria.

However, in the EU, despite Denmark's national legislation which requires that levels of trans fats in oils is no more than 2% (a rule that may be considered to be against the principles of mutual recognition within the EU), there has still been no specific moves by the European Commission (EC) to propose legislation concerning either maximum levels or labelling on foods.

The EC has requested that the European Food Safety Authority conducts a study into whether there is a need for restriction or labelling. This is due to be completed by the autumn.

Based on the recommendations of this report, further discussions on the need for legislation in this area will take place.

It is interesting to note the different nutritional concerns and policies, and hence legislative differences, between the US and EU. Salt levels in food, currently causing something of a storm in the UK, hardly feature at IFT. The focus over there is much more on curbing obesity through low-carb solutions -- something the Food Drug Administration has now promised to examine within the nutritional claims framework, because of sheer demand from the industry for clarity and control.

In the EU, low-carb claims are not even considered within the proposed nutrition and health claims regulation.

Jean Feord, business manager for legislation, Leatherhead Food International. http://www.leatherheadfood.com

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