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SAFE – Safe Food Advocacy Europe

ACTIVITY REPORT Year 2017


Table of content Preamble

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Publications

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Conferences and events

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Annual Conference 2017

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EFSA Stakeholder Forum

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European Parliament Roundtable

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Position/ Experts Papers & Letters

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POE-Tallowamine

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Furan

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Endocrine Disruptors

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Consultations

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REFIT of the Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims – Nutrient Profiles

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Consultation on the CAP

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Consultation on EFSA’s independence policy

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Campaigns & Petitions

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Sugar project

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STOP Glyphosate

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Food waste

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Contact

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Preamble

In January 2017 SAFE celebrated its two-year anniversary. Over the past years, SAFE has considerably developed its lobbying and advocacy activities and continues to take part in several working groups of the DG SANTE such as the Advisory Group for the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health. During the beginning of the year 2017, SAFE became an official EFSA stakeholder, allowing the participation in several meetings and events organised by the agency to take part in the debates to offer a higher level of protection to consumers. In its aim to increase public awareness, in 2017 SAFE developed campaigns and projects to meet with consumers and inform them about food safety issues such as the health-related risks of sugar overconsumption. The following report provides information on the activities undertaken by SAFE during the year 2017.

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Publications Newsletters and Flash News are sent to SAFE’s members to inform them on the latest news about Eu food law and food safety. Information materials aimed at consumers are produces on diverse topics such as excessive sugar consumption, food colouring and acrylamide.

Conferences and events Annual Conference 2017 EU food safety regulation: putting consumers first – An overview of current issues and how to increase consumers’ protection On the 21st of March, SAFE held the second edition of its annual conference in Brussels. The conference focused on four main topics, all of them of utmost importance to SAFE’s agenda: acrylamide draft regulation, endocrine disruptors, nanoparticles, and the overconsumption of sugar. The audience included European Commission's officials, EFSA staff, journalists, MEPs' assistants, several NGOs, and several representatives of the food industry, as well as guest speaker Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis.

The conference proved to be an ideal forum of discussion about food safety, both during a workshop and the Q&A sessions following the presentations. The presence of different stakeholders facilitated a balanced and interesting debate. First, interventions made by EU officials provided a clear overview of what EU institutions are working on.

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Floriana Cimmarusti, SAFE’s Secretary General, opened the conference by presenting SAFE’s latest and upcoming projects. EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis noticeably recalled in his address the introduction of mandatory nutrition labelling last December, after having reminded the audience of the work undertaken in the last two decades by EU institutions in the aftermath of the Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and Dioxin crises to avoid such events ever occur again. The Commissioner also discussed the meaning of the EU's infamous precautionary principle, explaining it means rather "taking action when you know there is a risk but you cannot assess precisely the level of risk" and that it should not be confused with the precautionary approach. Finally, he made a statement advocating decisions based on hard evidence and scientific opinions, while criticizing a public opinion he considers often too volatile and emotional. Frans Verstraete, speaking on behalf of the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, explained in detail the mitigation measures considered by the Commission regarding acrylamide levels. Head of Unit E.1, Food information and composition, food waste (Health and Food safety DG) Alexandra Nikolakopoulou explained how the European Commission is trying to increase the quality and transparency of information made available to consumers thanks to nutrition information on food labels/food packaging (mandatory and non) and to the health claims allowed at European level. Changing Markets' campaign director Nusa Urbancic urged the European Commission to take into consideration the instant adoption of maximum levels regarding acrylamide and expressed her scepticism regarding the use of the hygiene regulation as a legal basis for the same topic. Camille Perrin from the European Consumer Organisations (BEUC) was critical about the delay in the adoption of a common European legal framework regarding trans fatty acids. Regarding endocrine disruptors, Vito Buonsante of Client Earth declared that opting for a risk-based approach would make the European Commission’s proposal weak, since human health and the environment would not be protected. Despite these contrasts, common ground was also easily found. For instance, when Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis sided with SAFE during the Q&A session, regarding the overexposure of children to commercials promoting products containing too much sugar. All participants agree on the fact that consumers’ awareness needs to be raised, and that better evidence is needed to have better regulation.

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Design thinking workshop to identify recommendations for EFSA: joint working session with all stakeholders to find solutions for some of EFSA’s challenges How awareness could be raised and better evidence be achieved, was actively discussed during the conference’s workshop. Due to the variety of actors participating, the workshop was facilitated by the renowned Design Thinkers Academy, which specialises in bringing together participants from different sectors. The workshop resulted in a series of recommendations for EFSA, which was presented during EFSA’s stakeholder’s forum in May 2017.

Click on image to read the minutes of the workshop

EFSA Stakeholder Forum The first meeting of EFSA’s Stakeholder Forum took place on May 30th and 31st of 2017. During this event, SAFE had the opportunity to present the results of the workshop to identify recommendations for EFSA, held during SAFE’s Annual Conference. Different Stakeholders coming from diverse backgrounds (NGO, consumer organisations, agro-food businesses, EC representatives, EFSA representatives, MEPs and journalists) drew five main recommendations to tackle EFSA’s challenges: - Inform consumers and raise awareness about food components: enhance direct communication via short commercials on social media and television; - Offer independent information to consumers: industry-free information; - Organise forums to involve all stakeholders (not just consultative) in the risk assessment process; - Transparency of data: publish all researches from EFSA; - Independence of research thanks to economic independence of EFSA: through industry tax.

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These recommendations will be part of a strategic input for EFSA’s work plans and future priorities. Learn more about SAFE’s intervention during EFSA’s stakeholder’s forum here.

European Parliament Roundtable On the 28th of June 2017, SAFE organised the Roundtable “The excessive consumption of sugar: a health issue” hosted by MEP Nessa Childers at the European Parliament. If sugar is part of any normal diet, its excessive consumption represents a serious health issue. Indeed, numerous scientific studies, among which those of the World Health Organisation, show that the excessive consumption of sugar is one of the main factors responsible of the increasing number of people suffering from obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This event was thus an occasion to understand this issue and explore viable solutions with different speakers from the European Parliament, the European Commission and civil society organisations. The roundtable brought the following speakers and their presentations: - Nessa Childers – Member of the European Parliament Welcome and Introduction - Floriana Cimmarusti – Secretary General of Safe Food Advocacy Europe SAFE’s Sugar Project: Reducing excessive sugar consumption for European consumers - Luminita Hayes – Attaché to the World Health Organization representative to the EU Sugars reduction initiatives in Europe: context, challenges and opportunities - Alexandra Nikolapkopoulou – Head of Unit E1: Food Information and Composition, Food Waste at the European Commission Sugars related policies in DG Health and Food Safety - Nikolai Pushkarev – Policy Coordinator Food, Drink and Agriculture at the European Public Health Alliance Sugar in All Policies: Opportunities for MEPs to address excessive sugar consumption

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SAFE would like to kindly thank MEP Nessa Childers for hosting this event but also the guest speakers Ms Luminita Hayes, Ms Alexandra Nikolakopoulou and Mr Nokolai Pushkarev for participating in the event and Mr Sarantis Michalopoulos for being the moderator during the debates. SAFE would also like to express apologies from Ms Leen Meulenbergs and Mr Vlad Ratziu, guest speakers to the event, for not being able to participate. The minutes of the event were published on SAFE’s website.

Position/ Experts Papers & Letters POE-Tallowamine Despite civil society's growing concerns and its classification as "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organisation, EU Member States were unable to reach an agreement on whether to renew glyphosate's market authorisation last June, thus letting the European Commission decide on the matter. The latter chose to grant the chemical an 18-month technical extension and wait for the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to publish its report on the issue, which is expected at the latest before the end of 2017. As one of the conditions to the extension, the Commission though banned the co-formulant POE-Tallowamine, which has been deemed highly toxic by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). Yet, several EU countries are circumventing this ban, allowing commercial interests to prevail over public health concerns. Italy's Ministry of Health signed a decree on 21 November 2016 that extended further on the commercialisation and utilisation periods for products containing glyphosate and POETallowamine. This would allow certain companies to continue selling the product until as late SAFE – Safe Food Advocacy Europe ACTIVITY REPORT Year 2017

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as 22 May 2017. It should be noted that the Ministry assorted the decree with several restrictions, although they are not binding. These mere recommendations asked purchasers not to utilise the products in question in public parks, gardens, sports, recreation grounds, school grounds and children’s playgrounds. Together with NGO PAN-Europe and PAN-Italy, and represented by lawyer Michela Velardo, member of the Brussels and Rome bar, SAFE formally noticed by letter the Italian Ministry of Health on 7 February 2017 that it considered the decree contrary to EU superior norms – chiefly the precautionary principle – as well as to Italian law, and requested for the decree to be revoked. SAFE welcomes the Italian Ministry's latest plight not to extend its decree, which was confirmed by a formal letter. Likewise, SAFE is waiting for the European Commission's declarations on the case of other countries that engaged in similar practices. SAFE urges the Commission and these EU Member States to put public health concerns above all else, given the precautionary principle should clearly prevail in this situation.

Furan Following the EC’s monitoring recommendation regarding the presence of furan in food, EFSA is collecting data on the topic. As official stakeholder of EFSA, in March 2017, SAFE participated in an info session on furan and methylfuran organised by EFSA. This is the opportunity for SAFE to provide to the agency the scientific data available regarding the health risks related to this contaminant present in food. A position paper will soon be published on the mater. Furan is a food contaminant highly volatile and lipophilic, naturally present in food. Furan formation is the result of the thermal degradation of natural food constituents as specifically carbohydrates and unsaturated fatty acids. Heating food in a closed container consists of the main reason for furan appearance. Furan is generated through a chemical reaction i.e. – induced by heat at low humidity levels – which transforms sugar and amino acids that are naturally comprised in starchy food products. This reaction, known as the Maillard Reaction, enhances the taste of the cooked item, while being also responsible for the brownish colour it often gives to food. Furan could also be formed by other food compounds such as carotene, organic acids and ascorbic acid. SAFE – Safe Food Advocacy Europe ACTIVITY REPORT Year 2017

Click on image to read the position paper on Furan in food

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Furan is mostly found in jarred food, directly packed after processing impeding its evaporation, in roasted coffee beans as well as in home-cooked food at a lesser extent. SAFE welcomes the initiative of the European Commission to call for a new risk-assessment of furan. Indeed, SAFE considers that, regarding the current legislation on food contaminant, which has the willingness to prevent any health concern for consumers, as well as to the significant results of the different scientific researches that tend to prove the carcinogenic properties of furan, it is a necessity to reduce furan levels in food. Indeed, the lack of legally binding benchmark leaves the room to consumers’ potential and dangerous exposure to furan.

Endocrine Disruptors Almost three years later than legally expected, the European Commission has proposed its definition of endocrine disruptors (EDs), along with a set of scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine disrupting properties. On the 4th of July 2017, Member States representatives from the EU pesticides committee came to an agreement in the form of a draft aimed at amending Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and repealing Council Directives 79/111/EC and 91/414/EEC, as well as Regulation (EU) No 528/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2012, concerning the making available on the market and use of biocidal products. SAFE welcomes the declaration of the EC to consider as “appropriate” (cf. recital 2) the use of the WHO definition published in 2002 – widely recognised in the scientific community since then – describing EDs as “an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub) populations”. This has indeed for long been a request of SAFE, as well as several other NGOs, stated in our previous position paper of June 2016 on EDs.

Click on image to read the position paper on ED

Nevertheless, the actual definition of endocrine disrupting properties specified in the Annex of the draft regulation amending the Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 in point 3.6.5 and point 3.8.2. does not sufficiently protect European citizens’ health for the four following reasons: - No horizontal criteria; - A very high burden of proof; SAFE – Safe Food Advocacy Europe ACTIVITY REPORT Year 2017

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Less protective risk-based approach; Authorisation of disruptive effects on targeted organism.

Consultations REFIT of the Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims – Nutrient Profiles SAFE took part in the consultation launched by the European Commission to reform the Regulation (EC) (1924/2006) on Nutrition and Health Claims. It is the opportunity for SAFE to include its expertise related to the health claims’ issue. SAFE pushed in favour of establishing mandatory nutrient profiles’ requirements to allow food products to bear a health claim with regards to Fat, Saturated Fat, Sugar, Sodium or Salt (FSS nutrients). Nutrient profiles would provide information to differentiate between foods that are likely to be part of a healthy diet from those that could not be part of. Indeed, SAFE advocates for stronger European food legislation capable of protecting consumers.

Consultation on the CAP In order to “modernize and simplify” the CAP, the European Commission opened a consultation aiming at gathering proposals from the agricultural sector that will be used for the CAP reform by 2020. SAFE gave its input to influence the CAP towards more sustainability and greener incentives.

Consultation on EFSA’s independence policy The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has often been and is still often being criticised for its lack of independency. Indeed, the links between some of its members and the food industry, as well its lack of transparency regarding the data used to deliver its scientific opinions, have raised criticisms from numerous NGO’s. In reaction to these critics, the EFSA Managing Board set up in October 2016 a working group to review the current EFSA policy on independence. The working group thus published a draft of the new EFSA’s independence policy and launched, in March 2017, a public consultation to get feedbacks from civil society. SAFE participated in the consultation, asking for the improvement of several articles of the draft. The working group is now modifying the text and will soon send a revised version for approval to the EFSA Managing Board.

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Campaigns & Petitions Sugar project SAFE’s Sugar Project is first implemented in Belgium with the Campaign “Désucrez-vous! Du sucre oui, mais pas trop”, before being spread out across EU Member States. The Project aims at improving EU legislation, raise public awareness and offer better tools for consumers to make healthier choices. The Project entails the following: o Improve the FIC Regulation concerning sugar information on food packaging; o Develop a smartphone application for consumers to inform on the amount of free sugars contained in food products; o Persuade agro-food industries to lower the quantity of sugar in their products, by developing a label for those who do comply; o Increase consumers' awareness regarding the health risks linked to high sugar consumption through commercials and educational flyers; o Train children and teenagers in Belgian schools to adopt healthier diets with lower daily sugar intake (with the support of the Ministry of Education of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels). The training courses aimed at children and teenagers in Belgium to inform and raise awareness on the health risks of excessive sugar intakes were launched beginning of 2017. The courses are first implemented in Belgian schools before being spread out across EU Member States.

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The training consists of a 2-hour interactive course gathering several classes of children age 8 to 14 years old and including a presentation, short videos, games and quizzes. The facilitator goes through the different existing types of sugars, where to find them, what are the health risks related to their consumption, the WHO (World Health organisation) recommendations and explains to the pupils how to calculate the quantity of sugar in products in terms of number of teaspoons. The children leave the training course with flyers gathering all useful information, to help them put into practice what they have learned on the topic. The twenty training courses took place between February and September 2017 and reached over 1000 children and teenagers in the Brussels area.

STOP Glyphosate Together with over 25 organisations over the EU, SAFE is taking part in the European Citizens’ Initiative to ban glyphosate and to protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides. The initiative calls on the European Commission to propose to member states a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use. This European Citizen’s Initiative aims to: o Ban glyphosate-based herbicides, exposure to which has been linked to cancer in humans, and has led to ecosystems degradation; Click on image to access the ECI o Ensure that the scientific evaluation of pesticides for EU regulatory approval is based only on published studies, which are commissioned by competent public authorities instead of the pesticide industry; o Set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use, with a view to achieving a pesticide-free future. SAFE – Safe Food Advocacy Europe ACTIVITY REPORT Year 2017

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Food waste SAFE actively helped the organisation “This is rubbish” to convince the members of the European parliament to amend the European Commission's proposal aiming at reducing food waste and improving recycling in the EU. The result was that on the 14th of March 2017, the Parliament amended the proposal pushing for higher targets than those the Commission had set for in its draft, notably asking to cut EU food waste by 50% by 2030, from farm to fork. On April 20th, SAFE attended the final event of the “Don’t Waste Our Future” Project which aims at developing education and raising awareness towards food waste, and encouraging the implementation of more sustainable models of consumption at a local and global level. SAFE strongly supports the actions developed for the purpose of this project.

Click on image to access the petition

Among these actions there are workshops for school students regarding responsible food consumption, coaching with teachers, communication campaigns, European forums, or participatory workshops gathering students, teachers and local authorities. This project involves about 80 primary and secondary schools, and 40 municipalities across 7 European Countries. One of the most important achievements of this campaign is the drafting of “The Don’t Waste Our Future Charter 2015” by which young people and local authorities are stating their intent to promote food waste reduction.

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Contact Mundo B Rue d’Edimbourg 26 1050 Brussels Belgium Phone: +32 (0)2 893 10 58 Website: www.safefoodadvocacy.eu Secretary General: Floriana Cimmarusti floriana.cimmarusti@safefoodadvocacy.eu

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Safe Activity Report Year 2017  
Safe Activity Report Year 2017  
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