Nutrition on the Internet

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 1 April 2000



Stephen Fallows, D. (2000), "Nutrition on the Internet", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 30 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Nutrition on the Internet

As indicated in the last issue of Nutrition & Food Science, this is the second of a pair of linked articles that concentrate on materials available from the European Union (EU) Web sites. The first article identified six main categories of material posted to the EU Web sites:

  1. 1.

    Items of legislation such as new regulations and directives.

  2. 2.

    Descriptions of EU systems and procedures.

  3. 3.

    Agendas and minutes of meetings.

  4. 4.


  5. 5.


  6. 6.


The first article concentrated on the first four categories. This second article focuses on the fifth and sixth categories.

It is likely that most readers will find these to be the most useful class of materials provided on the EU Web sites.


The several scientific advisory committees, referred to in the previous article, provide detailed scientific evaluations of the issues put before them - these evaluations are referred to as "opinions". Opinions are also provided by Committees with other responsibilities and terms of reference (for example the Consumers' Committee).

It is European Commission policy to publish the full text of opinions on its Web site (specifically on that portion of the Web site allocated to the Directorate General with responsibilities for health and consumer protection (DG24)). The text is provided in Adobe Acrobat format.

Examples of opinions relevant to food and nutrition and published during 1999 include:

Scientific Steering Committee

The Scientific Steering Committee meets in plenary session each month. In addition, there are other meetings at which sub-Committees work to prepare draft opinions for consideration at the plenary sessions.

18 February 1999

18 March 1999

28 May 1999

22 July 1999

28 October 1999

  • Scientific grounds of the advice of 30 September 1999 of the French Food Safety Agency (the Agence Franµaise de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments AFSSA)), to the French Government on the Draft Decree amending the Decree of 28 October 1998 establishing specific measures applicable to certain products of bovine origin exported from the UK. (That is, on the French advice to continue with a prohibition on imports of beef from the UK.) The URL is:

Scientific Committee on Food

The Scientific Committee on Food meets every two months. Opinions adopted at recent meetings have included the following:

24 March 1999

The SCF also discussed GM products that do not require labelling. The specific question posed concerned the validity of "the scientific base for determining whether food products derived from GM soya and GM maize could be included in a list of foods which do not require labelling because they do not contain detectable traces of DNA or protein". (This definition is included in the 1998 novel foods regulation.) The SCF released a statement (see URL below) in which it re-confirmed the earlier opinion (see second URL below):

12 May 1999

16 June 1999

22 September 1999

Opinions "in the pipeline" at the time of writing include the following topics:

  • Assessment of a genetically modified variety of tomato.

  • Dioxins and PCB contamination of foods.

  • Evaluation of erythritol as a food additive.

  • Evaluation of exposure to the food additive nisin.

  • Evaluation of a survey on dietary intake of di-2-(ethylhexyl) adipate (DEHA) as a food contact material.

  • Ngali nuts as novel foods.

Once the opinion has been confirmed for each of the above topics, this will be available via the Internet. These and subsequent SCF opinions will follow the above convention with respect to the URL.

Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health

15 March 1999

30 April 1999

  • The potential risks to human health from hormone residues in bovine meat and meat products. The URL is:

23 September 1999

Scientific Committee for Plants

18 May 1999

24 September 1999

Consumers' Committee

1 March 1999

From the examples cited above, it can be observed that the food and nutrition matters are covered by a number of the Scientific Committees:

  • The Scientific Steering Committee deals with BSE as well as providing a co-ordinating overview on other matters that cross disciplines.

  • The Scientific Committee on Food covers food additives, food contaminants, food contact materials.

  • The Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health considers the impact of veterinary interventions on human health.

  • The Scientific Committee on Plants deals with matters concerning GM plants and the likelihood of implications for human health.


Food-related reports posted to the EU Web sites are largely concerned with investigations of matters of immediate concern (such as a contamination incident) or planned reviews of procedures and practice within an EU Member State or third country.

Recent (1999) examples of urgent matters include:

Recent (1999) examples of planned reviews include:

(With reference to planned reviews, the above list gives details only of reviews of UK procedures. Each year dozens of reviews are carried to inspect the plant and animal health protection systems in the EU Member States and in those countries wishing to export foods and other agricultural products to the EU.)

In addition to the above, the EU also posts further reports that provide annual summaries of activities. The following gives an example:

Endnote: a promise

This article has completed the fulfilment of a promise to provide a review of some of the European Union's materials available via the Internet. I will end with a second promise - in Issue 6, later this year, I will provide a review of some of the more interesting documents that have been posted on the EU Web sites after completion of this article.

If you have identified a Web site likely to be of interest to readers of Nutrition & Food Science please contact the author of this series of articles as follows: by e-mail to; by fax to 01234 766926 or 01582 743237; by post to the University of Luton.

Dr Stephen FallowsUniversity of Luton

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