The group said the vote to revise PARNUTS (foods for particular nutritional purposes) would give the sports nutrition sector greater flexibility and maximise innovation potential. The rule changes have been broadly welcomed by other ‘special foods’ groups like infant formula, gluten-free foods and medical foods for the elderly and sick.
“This is a watershed moment in a debate that has lasted for more than ten years,” said ESSNA chair, Dr Adam Carey.
“We have always been very clear that establishing criteria for a few categories of sports foods would have been extremely damaging to the industry. We are delighted that our concerns have been recognised and acted upon.”
“There are a number of issues still to resolve and we will be engaging fully with the European Commission’s report, which will be an important piece of work – one we hope will lead to a functioning single market of sports foods across the European Union. This would help ensure further growth in what is already a thriving sector.”
The new laws will be applicable in 2016 – after a 3-year transition period.
At the same time the European Commission has tasked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to review whether any further provisions are required in regard to sports nutrition products – along with 'children's milks' - a move also welcomed by ESSNA.
Roger Clarke, member of the European Dietetic Food Industry Association (IDACE) operational board, also welcomed the vote and changes but added: “Work remains to be done in order to complete this basic act, and to ensure appropriate legal solutions for several categories of specialised nutrition for which the legislative future remains unclear.”
ESSNA members include Adams Food Ingredients, Aminolabs, Carbery, First Milk, Iovate Health Sciences, Maxinutrition, NSF, Volac and Weider Germany. The UK Health Food Manufacturers’ Association is an associate member.
Special foods account for about 1-2% of the total European food market – or about €24bn.
Tonio Borg, the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumers said: “I welcome today’s endorsement by the European Parliament as we need to make sure that EU rules on food for specific groups are fit for purpose and evolve at the same speed as market developments."
"Today’s agreement goes exactly in that direction by maintaining rules to protect vulnerable groups of consumers and by getting rid of outdated rules that no longer serve any purpose.”