§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what estimate he has made of the loss of sales and jobs which will accrue from the exclusion of snack foods from the sweeteners in food directive 8745/90;
(2) if he will seek to clarify the reasons why Mr. Bangemann, the European Commissioner, decided on 15 April that snack foods should not be covered by the sweeteners in food directive 8745/90;
(3) if he will explain the reasons for his confidence that snack food would be covered by the sweeteners in food directive 8745/90; and why he prepared the explanatory papers for Standing Committee A on the basis that they would be so covered;
(4) if he is aware of any specific health hazards which would accrue from the inclusion of snack food within the terms of the sweeteners in food directive 8745/90.
§ Mr. Curry
Consideration of sweeteners by the United Kingdom's independent expert advisory committees, following official surveys to monitor sweetener intakes, has revealed no health hazard from the current inclusion of these substances in snack foods. We are not aware that the matter has been reviewed by any other expert body. Accordingly, we see no health grounds why the draft EC sweeteners in food directive should not provide for the continuation of this existing practice. We are urgently seeking to clarify why the EC Commission's attitude on this matter appears to have changed since the preparation of the explanatory memorandum for Standing Committee A on the proposals.
It is the industry's view that sales of £70 million a year would be jeopardised if snack foods did not appear in the Directive. Whether jobs would be lost would depend on the industry's ability to reformulate the flavours concerned or divert resources to other products.
We aim to highlight identified problem areas in the explanatory memorandum prepared for Standing Committee A. Our expectation, after long negotiations, was that no difficulty existed and that this existing use could be continued. All the indications given by the Commission staff to this officials were that matters would be arranged so as to facilitate this. Industry representatives and Members of the European Parliament who could discuss the matter with Commission officials met the same response. We are urgently seeking to clarify why the Commission's attitude on this matter has since changed.