Written Answers. - Food Ingredients.

Enda Kenny

Question:

96 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children his proposals to harmonise the ingredients of fortified foods here and in other European Union countries with particular reference to cereals; the reasons for the difference in fortified foods at present; the studies which have been carried out as to the quality and health benefits from cereal fortified foods on sale in the Irish market as against those on sale in European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3989/02]

The EU White Paper on Food Safety, published in 1999, outlined a programme for future EU legislation in this area. The White Paper proposed to harmonise European legislation concerning fortified foods, but, as yet, no specific legislation has been proposed by the Commission. However, a Commission proposal is expected sometime later this year and will cover foods fortified with vitamins and minerals.

Currently, in Ireland there is no specific legislation that restricts the fortification of food other than the general food safety legislation that prevents manufacturers from marketing unsafe food. Legislation governing nutritional labelling ensures that if a manufacturer claims that a food is rich in a certain nutrient, it must label the nutrients in line with the legislation. In relation to vitamins, manufacturers must list the vitamins and the percentage of the recommended daily allowance which they provide in a typical serving. Hence, the consumer can make informed choices in their purchasing patterns.

The fortification of foods differs between mem ber states. The Scandinavian countries for example do not allow fortified foods while Ireland and the UK have markets in fortified foods which have been operating for many years. The ban on fortified food in some countries does not tend to be on safety grounds but rather on dietary grounds. These countries do not see a need for fortified foods. The other member states may have certain restrictions and maximum limits for some foodstuffs. Hence, at present the same brand of cereal in different countries could contain very different vitamin and mineral fortification.
We are unaware of any risk assessment in Ireland on fortified foods, but the FSAI will continue to monitor the situation.