11 January 2016

Stakeholders’ meeting on food intended for sportspeople: SNE calls for the swift implementation of management measures

Stakeholders’ meeting on food intended for sportspeople: SNE calls for the swift implementation of management measures for foods intended to sportspeople in order to ensure continuity for manufacturers and allow some time for institutional debate

Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE), representing manufacturers of food intended for sportspeople, attended the Working group of the Advisory Group meeting organised by the European Commission to present and discuss their working document on food intended for sportspeople. The meeting took place on 21 December and brought together a range of EU stakeholders including industry associations and other NGOs.

The Commission and stakeholders at the meeting recognized several challenges with the repeal of the PARNUTs Directive (2009/39/EC) and the application of the general EU food legislation for food intended for sportspeople without adequate adaptations aiming at addressing the specificities of these products. If not overcome, these challenges will be detrimental to both sportspeople and manufacturers across the EU.

As a matter of fact, SNE pointed out that EFSA has recently confirmed the existence of specific nutritional needs for sportspeople and that without a specific category recognition, consumers will not have access to factual nutritional characteristics on products, nor instructions of use. The recognition of a specific category for foods intended for sportspeople is crucial to enable the implementation of relevant specific EU rules (e.g. specific nutrition and health claims, fortification) and ensure a continuous and stable framework for the sector.

SNE is deeply concerned about a potential regulatory scenario where sportspeople would not receive clear and factual information about product use, in addition to the absence of a harmonized EU approach regarding the presence of doping substances in foods intended for sportspeople.

If no legal adaptations are made for these products, after 20 July 2016 manufacturers will need to switch from the existing rules to general EU food law without any transition period necessary to reformulate, relabel and reposition the products. For this reason, SNE underlines the necessity to adopt urgent transitory measures.

SNE urged European decision-makers to undertake a two-step approach to ensure a high level of consumer protection for sportspeople while safeguarding the competitiveness of the EU industry:

  1. In the short-term: implement management measures to ensure that the specificities of sports food can be maintained after 20 July 2016; and
  2. In the long-term: hold debates with the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission report on the various regulatory options for foods intended to sportspeople in the EU, ensuring the follow-up of a transparent and consultative decision-making process.

In the absence of any transitional measures, provisions that have been applicable for years will suddenly change overnight on 20th July 2016 including some mandatory requirements that will become prohibited without any justification. Furthermore, transitional measures are necessary in order to enable time for a smooth and constructive debate.

While acknowledging the European Commission’s Better Regulation strategy, but considering what is at stake in relation to consumer protection, consumer information and the competitiveness of the EU industry, SNE is calling for an EU regulatory framework that takes into account the specificities of these products. This will ensure that sportspeople receive adequate products to match their particular nutritional needs, and the necessary factual information to make informed choices.

For more information:

Aurélie Perrichet, SNE Executive Director ()


Notes to editors:

  • Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE) is the trade association representing the interests of the specialised nutrition industry across the European Union. SNE members are the national associations of 16 Member States and their members are the companies producing foods for particular nutritional needs, known at EU level as 'foods for specific groups'.
  • SNE members provide tailor made dietary solutions for populations with very specific nutritional needs including infants and young children, individuals under medical supervision, sportspeople, overweight and obese consumers, and those suffering from coeliac disease.
  • “PARNUTs” refer to foodstuffs intended for PARticular NUTritional uses, as covered by Directive 2009/39/EC, i.e.: “foodstuffs which, owing to their special composition or manufacturing process, are clearly distinguishable from foodstuffs for normal consumption, which are suitable for their claimed nutritional purposes and which are marketed in such a way as to indicate such suitability”.
  • “Foods for Specific Groups” refer to foods intended for infants and young children, foods for special medical purposes, and total diet replacement for weight control, as covered by Regulation (EU) 609/2013.
  • Once the new FSG rules will become applicable from July 2016 onwards, foods intended for sportspeople will fall under general food law.
  • An EFSA scientific and technical assistance on food intended for sportspeople was published in September 2015. In this assessment, EFSA confirmed that the previous scientific advices are still fully valid (recognizing in particular the essential role of carbohydrates intake in relation to physical performance and the role of electrolytes (particularly sodium) in the maintenance of adequate hydration during exercise and in post-exercise re-hydration).
  • SNE therefore calls for an EU regulatory framework that takes into account the specificities of these products.