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The Labelling of Nanomaterials under EU Law, with a Particular Focus on France

Patrick Coppens, Francesco Planchenstainer


The use of nanomaterials in foods is one of the emerging areas for innovation that is addressed by EU Food Law. New applications of nanomaterials require pre-market authorisation under the Novel Foods Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 or, in the case of food additives, under Regulation (EC) 1333/2008. Under the labelling provisions (Regulation (EU) 1169/2011) the presence of engineered nanomaterials needs to be indicated in the labelling of foods. These regulations apply in all EU Member States. Recently, however, controversy has arisen, in particular in France, with a seemingly diverging application of these laws and a legal initiative to ban the use of a food additive (E171 – Titanium Dioxide) based on safety concerns because of the presence of nanoparticles. The paper describes the background and provides a legal analysis of the consistency of these developments with EU legal principles.
Keywords: EU Commission; France; Labelling; Novel foods; Food additives; Nanomaterials; Precautionary principle; Titanium dioxide.

Patrick Coppens is Managing Director Europe & MEA, EAS Strategies, Brussels. Francesco Planchenstainer is Senior Regulatory Counsel, Ferrero Group. Acknowledgement: This paper originated from discussions in the Council of the European Food Law Association (EFLA) following the EFLA workshop on ‘Questions around national provisions: the case of nano labelling rules and titanium dioxide ban in France’, organised on 12 December 2018. A report on this event is featured elsewhere in this journal.Both authors are member of the EFLA Council. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the authors, and not necessarily to the authors’ employer, organisation, committee or other group the authors are active in.

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