Health and Food Safety 

The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) published a statement on emerging health and environmental issues.

The SCHEER statement on emerging health and environmental issues draws attention to 14 emerging issues in the non-food area that Committee members have identified as having a potential impact on human health and/or the environment in the future. Among the risks identified is the increase of pharmaceuticals and illicit drug loads in wastewater as a result of rise in the use of drugs, aging population and fly tipping of waste from illegal drug manufacturing sites. The presence of antibiotics in surface water may represent a change in the functioning of ecosystems and a risk to human health


Source: Health and Food Safety e-News – Newsroom Archive

Why and how Europe’s food systems need to change?

What can be done to prepare Europe’s food systems for the future? In a new Policy Précis, EuroHealthNet examines pathways, solutions and best practices to move towards healthier and more sustainable and inclusive food systems in Europe and beyond. 

Despite growing concern about sustainability, Europe’s food systems still put undue stress on our environment. By restraining access to decent and affordable nutrition, our food systems perpetuate and drive up health inequalities. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continues to subsidise intensive production of alcohol, meat, dairy fats and sugars, products that are known to contribute to the growing prevalence of obesity, and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

To read the Policy Précis in full, go to:

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway 

The Gateway recently published a series of briefs on Dietary Salt, Dietary Fats as well as Alcoholic Beverages. Knowledge Gateway briefs include useful and well-structured information on critical issues.

You will find reliable, independent and up-to date information on topics related to the promotion of health and well-being, in particular the prevention of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

To read more about these briefs go to: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway – European Commission

Fight against food fraud: 45 tons of illegally treated tuna seized in Spain

On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

To read more about this go to:

Taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks can save lives

A new WHO study on Montenegro has revealed that increased taxes applied to tobacco products and sugary drinks would have a significant positive impact in terms of avoiding premature mortality and new cases of disease over the next 20 years. If introduced as recommended by WHO, the taxes would also raise revenue and result in major monetary savings for the government in the form of reduced costs of treatment and workplace absenteeism. The results indicate that increased taxation applied to these products would be a powerful tool for Montenegro in achieving national and global targets related to reductions in overweight and obesity and tobacco smoking prevalence.

To read more about this study on Montenegro go to: WHO/Europe | Montenegro study: taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks can save lives

Intersectoral salt reduction initiatives in Republic of Moldova

On 12–13 December 2017, a team of technical officers from WHO/Europe conducted a capacity-building workshop in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, on intersectoral planning on salt reduction. The workshop aimed to strengthen the knowledge and capacities of local public health practitioners to define priority interventions on salt reduction. According to the preliminary results of the National Salt Intake Survey, the country’s adult population consumes 10 grams of salt per day, which is twice the WHO recommendation.

It also supported the development of practical steps for implementing the priority interventions using a multistakeholder approach. This approach takes into account the national applicability of national and international guidance documents, as well as gaps in knowledge and evidence for implementation.

To read more about this on the WHO/Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | WHO provides support to intersectoral salt reduction initiatives in Republic of Moldova

Bisphenol A: more stringent measures for food contact materials

The Commission has published today a new Regulation that significantly tightens the restrictions on the use of BPA in food contact materials. It lowers the regulatory limit (specific migration limit or ‘SML’), which is the amount allowed to migrate from the plastic material into food while keeping it safe, and extends this restriction to coating materials, which are used to line food and drink cans. The new Regulation also extends the ban from 2011 on the use of BPA in baby bottles by prohibiting the use of BPA to manufacture infant ‘sippy’ cups as well as the migration of BPA from coated materials containing food intended for infants and children 0–3 year olds. The new Regulation will apply from 6 September 2018.

To read more go to:

Turning the tide on obesity and unhealthy diets

Public Health Panorama, WHO/Europe’s public health journal, has dedicated its latest issue to obesity and unhealthy diets in the Region. With unhealthy diets now responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally, and with the Region at the midway point of implementing the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020, this special issue is a timely source of lessons learned and new research on the subject.

The issue, “Turning the tide on obesity and unhealthy diets”, gives a snapshot of the current challenges governments face in making policies for improving public health. It examines the rapid increase in overweight and obesity among children and adolescents, and the need for transforming both service delivery and the scope of practice of health professionals.

For more information go to the WHO Europe website: WHO/Europe | Nutrition – Turning the tide on obesity and unhealthy diets in the WHO European Region – new publication presents novel insights and effective solutions

Sugar in foods

WHO has published a new study that investigates why manufacturers and other supply chain actors use sugar in foods and why they use it in such large amounts. The publication “Incentives and disincentives for reducing sugar in manufactured foods: an exploratory supply chain analysis” concludes that a comprehensive approach encompassing the entire food system is necessary in order to reduce sugar intake.

WHO produced the report in response to the growing issue of consumption of excess free sugars throughout the WHO European Region. Consuming excess free sugars is associated with weight gain for adults and children.

The major sources of free sugars in the European diet include sugary drinks and so-called treat foods such as sweets, chocolates, cakes, pastries and biscuits. The term “free sugars” refers to all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus the sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. It does not include sugars present in whole fruits or vegetables.

According to WHO recommendations, intake of free sugars should be less than 10% of total daily energy intake for both adults and children, and ideally should be less than 5%.

To read the report in full on the WHO Europe website go to: