Nutrient profiling 'essential', says new DG Sanco boss

By Rick Pendrous, Brussels

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrient profiles, European union

Paola Testori-Coggi
Paola Testori-Coggi
The new director general of the European Commission’s directorate for health and consumer affairs, DG Sanco, has warned manufacturers to expect a tougher line from her than from her predecessor if they fail to make faster progress on improving the nutritional profiles of their products.

Speaking at a meeting in Brussels this week organised by the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA), Paola Testori-Coggi – who took over from Robert Madelin at the beginning of April – said it was important to involve more stakeholders in the process and to raise their level of involvement.

“There is one area where our co-operation has not really worked to its maximum,” ​said Testori-Coggi.

“Nutrient profiling is one of the ways the regulator could push the industry more.” ​She said she wanted industry to recognise that nutrient profiling was essential to achieve further improvements in food reformulation.

Those backing nutrient profiles want to ensure that products high in salt, sugar or fat cannot carry health claims under the new Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims on Foods. However, German MEP Renate Sommer, rapporteur on the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, together with large parts of the food industry, are vehemently against nutrient profiles.

“I think that the nutrient profile has not been understood,” ​claimed Testori-Coggi. “Some parts of the food industry have fought against nutrient profiles.”

Later this month the European Parliament will consider whether it should accept an amendment from Sommer calling for the deletion of Article 4 of the Regulation, which covers nutrient profiles. “I still believe there is a chance to convince the Parliament not to drop ​[nutrient profiles] and this is an area where I would like to have better co-operation from all parts of the industry,”​ said Testori-Coggi.

While she accepted that the European Platform For Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health had been “a great adventure”​ and had met a lot of its objectives, Testori-Coggi warned the industry that she intended to use a report evaluating the outcomes of the Platform over the past five years to decide what more action was necessary further to improve EU consumer health.

“There is also one question we need to ask each other … ‘was this the most efficient way to reach these objectives?’,”​ she said.

Although she expressed confidence that the Platform would continue, she indicated that its stakeholders would probably need to concentrate on some areas of action more than they have in the past: “Maybe it will continue in a more focused way.”

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