Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Eighth Report





COM(02) 375

Draft Directive amending Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs.

Legal base:

Article 95EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting


Document originated:

11 July 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

18 July 2002


Food Standards Agency

Basis of consideration:

EM of 5 August 2002

Previous Committee Report:


To be discussed in Council:

No date set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Not cleared; further information awaited




    1. Council Directive 94/35/EC[24] sets out a list of sweeteners authorised for use in foodstuffs, the foods in which they may be used, and their conditions of use.
    2. The current proposal

    3. In addition to a number of procedural changes, the Commission has now proposed:

    • that two new substances (sucralose and salt of aspartame and acesulfame) should be added to the approved list;

    • that the conditions of use of two currently permitted sweeteners (cyclamic acid and its sodium and calcium salts — "cyclamate" — and aspartame) should be modified: the latter would be permitted for use in one additional food category (ice cream wafers), whereas, by contrast, the permitted use of cyclamate in soft drinks would be reduced from 400 to 350 mg/litre, and its authorisation for use in five categories of confectionery with no added sugar would be withdrawn.

The Government's view

    1. In her Explanatory Memorandum of 5 August 2002, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health (Ms Hazel Blears) says that the proposed change in the use of aspartame would have "negligible" implications for consumer safety or choice, and that the Food Standards Agency considers that what is proposed for sucralose and aspartame/acesulfame salt does not give rise to safety concerns (and would allow the production of reduced-energy and sugar-free foods with superior taste and/or technical properties compared with what is achievable with currently available sweeteners).
    2. The main interest, therefore, arises on the proposal regarding cyclamates, which reflects concerns over intake levels in a number of Member States. Cyclamates were banned in the UK between 1970 and 1995, but have since been permitted at doses equivalent to a very low Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). As a result, soft drinks containing cyclamates have only recently appeared on the UK market and the Minister says that the Food Standards Agency is currently awaiting the results of a new survey of consumption by children to determine whether UK consumers are at risk from the sort of excessive cyclamate intakes which appear to have arisen in certain Member States. She adds that comments have been sought on the proposal, and that an analysis of the outcome will be submitted in due course.
    3. Conclusion

    4. We have noted this proposal, particularly as regards the use of cyclamates, and, before taking a view on it, we would like to see the results of the Government's consultation exercise.


24   OJ No. L.237, 10.9.94, p.3. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 11 November 2002