The European Parliament yesterday voted with an overwhelming majority for a permanent ban on the use of the food additive E425, otherwise known as konjac, in jelly confectionery.
In March last year the European Union, following other regulatory bodies across the world, suspended sweets called jelly mini-cups from the European market after reports that they could pose a risk of death by choking, particularly to children and old people. More precisely, the suspension related to jelly minicups containing E 425 konjac, konjac gum or konjac glucomannan.
Yesterday, the European Parliament voted by 516 votes to six, with 10 abstentions, to support the Commission's proposal for a permanent ban on the food additive E 425 konjac in jelly confectionery. In addition, the House amended the proposal to bring forward the ban to six months after the Directive enters into force.
Regulatory bodies from Australia to the United States have banned mini-cup jelly products, traditionally manufactured in South-East Asia, that contain konjac. The legislative steps were taken after the fruit gel sweets were linked to several deaths around the world. But the regulatory bodies have not banned konjac.
Last year, in an interview with FoodNavigator.com, Philippe Vieille, managing director of Kalys, a French konjac supplier, stressed this fact: "Ill-informed media have warped information about konjac and branded it as dangerous - this is clearly not the case."
" I totally support the recent move by the European Commission to suspend the placing on the market of jelly minicups containing E425 konjac, konjac gum or konjac glucomannan," said Vieille. "But, to brand konjac as a dangerous additive, as certain media have done, is totally abusive. The use of konjac in many food preparations is totally without danger, providing that the industrial process conforms to current legislation."
Parliament yesterday rejected two amendments calling on the Commission to review the safety levels for all food additives and amend them where necessary, particularly with a view to their effects on children's health, after the reporter, Marit Paulsen, obtained assurances before the vote from Commissioner Patten, speaking on behalf of Health and Consumer Safety Commissioner Byrne, that the Commission would carry out such a review, in accordance with the existing legislation.