Girling: New EU rules will make losing weight more difficult

01-Sep-2017 @ 14:00

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Girling: New EU rules will make losing weight more difficult

Specialist dieting products will become more expensive, less tasty and go off quicker after socialist MEPs blocked Conservative attempts to overturn new European Union rules.

It is feared that changes to so-called total diet replacement products (TDRs) will see people opt for self-led diets, which often do not meet basic nutritional requirements and rarely prove successful. Alternatively, dieters may buy similar products online from outside the EU which do not meet the union's high safety standards.

Conservative Food Safety Spokesman Julie Girling MEP said: "Existing EU standards for TDRs have proved safe and successful for 30 years so I do not understand the need for changes which provide no significant benefit to consumers.

"I am very disappointed that socialist members of the Environment Committee took the decision to oppose my resolution, which would have forced the European Commission to look at this matter again.

"Losing weight is not easy and we shouldn't be making it more difficult by subjecting people to unpalatable and pricier meal replacements."

The Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to review TDRs, which are available as meals, drinks and snacks. Scientists recommended an increase in the minimal level of Essential Fatty Acids, which help reduce blood pressure, but acknowledged this may not be needed in dieting products due the release of fatty acids from cells during weight loss.

A separate recommended increase in protein to 75g per TDR is above the EFSA's own recommended minimum intake of 50g per day.

Extra protein and EFSA affect a product's taste, shelf life and increase production costs.

"It was not the EFSA's job to consider what the revised products would look or taste like or how feasible they would be to manufacture," Mrs Girling said. "It is up to the Commission to assess the real world consequences of any changes and apply a common sense test. This it has clearly failed to do.

"I do not dispute the EFSA's recommendations but there is an important difference between risk assessment and risk management. At a time of rising obesity and related conditions such as diabetes, we should be promoting products that can help reverse the trend."

The European Very Low Calorie Diet Industry Group has described the new rules as "disproportionate and largely unsubstantiated."

Manufacturers will have five years to introduce the changes.

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