Archive for July, 2016

Transfats in food : debate in European Parliament and next steps

trasnfatsOn the 12th of July, the European Parliament held a debate on transfats in food with European Commission representatives, and discussed a draft motion for resolution co-signed by eight MEPs from all political groups (MEP Renate Sommer (EPP, Germany); MEP Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D, Romania), MEP Nikolay Barekov (ECR), MEP Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE), MEP Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL), MEP Martin Häusling (Greens/EFA), MEP Piernicola Pedicini (EFDD), MEP Mireille D’Ornano (ENF)).

The draft motion for resolution calls on the European Commission to introduce mandatory limit values on industrial transfatty acids, with the aim to “reduce their intake amongst all population groups” across the EU.

The European Commission highlighted that an impact assessment for the measure is currently being conducted and expected to be finalised in early 2017, while a draft version will be open for input from stakeholders in autumn. The assessment will include a mapping of policy options as well as an analysis of the expected impacts. It follows the publication of the Commission report on transfats in food in December 2015 which described the relations between an increased intake of transfats and risks of cardiovascular diseases, especially heart disease; and concluded that a legal limit for industrially produced food would be the most efficient measure.

MEP Renate Sommer particularly pointed at the need to raise awareness on what trans fatty acids are, to reduce people’s intake in naturally occurring transfats contained in meat, milk and dairy products. Several MEPs including MEP Lynn Boylan called on the European Commission to take concrete and immediate action in the form of a legislative proposal.

The draft resolution will be put to vote in the parliamentary committee on environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) on September 29 before being considered for adoption in plenary session in October.

Slovakian health priorities on chronic diseases

SKWhile Slovakia took over the EU Council Presidency on the 1st of July for the next six months until the 31st of December 2016, the Slovak Health Minister Tomáš Drucker presented the Slovakian Presidency priorities in the health field to the European Parliament ENVI Committee on the 12th of July.

He introduced actions envisioned for the prevention of chronic diseases, which has been set a priority of the Presidency’s health programme. Highlighting that improving the diet of European citizens is an effective way to reduce obesity and overweight risk factors, he further explained that the Presidency will focus on strengthening best practices amongst Member States in food reformulation and encouraging joint initiatives aimed at developing healthier diets and reducing the high occurrence of chronic non-communicable diseases in Europeans.

Mr Drucker outlined the importance of setting an EU-wide framework for overall healthier lifestyles, even if this is challenging for some policy issues linked with disease triggers, including physical activity, eating habits or air quality.

EKHA endorses joint open letter to EU Commission on chronic diseases

Open letter to ECEleven European health advocacy organisations sent at the beginning of the week a joint open letter to EU Commission Vice-President Timmermans, EU Health Commissioner Andriukaitis, and EU Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Katainen, calling on the European Commission to take concrete and imminent action on chronic diseases.

An initiative of the European Chronic Disease Alliance of which EKHA is a member, the letter especially deplores the Commission’s lack of political engagement on chronic diseases and the absence of concrete action to establish a comprehensive framework integrating and enhancing the existing initiatives. It further notes that the Commission has shown little awareness of countries’ responsibility to meet the health targets defined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals; and has failed to recognise the importance of applying the principle ‘health in all policies’ – fundamental to make progress in preventing chronic diseases – in the conclusions of the EU stakeholder conference ‘Towards better prevention and management of chronic diseases’ held on the 21st of April.

The letter urges decision-makers to respond to the many concrete calls put forward by all stakeholders, thus to effectively address the issue by implementing an EU alcohol strategy, banning industrial trans-fatty acids, adopting WHO air quality guidelines and developing salt reduction programmes.

The initiative has already received media coverage in the EU press, including by the prominent EU newspaper Politico. 

Read Politico’s article “Advocates slam Commission over chronic diseases inaction”

The full letter sent to the EU Commission is available here: Open letter to the European Commission – EU Initiatives and Progress on Chronic Diseases

Netherlands and Belgium partnering to develop new world-class institute for regenerative medicine

With the aim to start its activities in 2017 with a €18 million budget, the new RegMed XB (REGenerative MEDicine crossing Borders) institute will gather scientists, health professionals and businesses to look into innovative solutions for diabetes patients, patients suffering from kidney disease or osteoarthritis, with the support of regional and national authorities in the Netherlands and Belgium.

While regenerative medicine may have the potential to cure chronic diseases, the institute will compile the research carried out to develop effective solutions; and envisions to expand into a leading institute for innovation worldwide.

EKHA Member the Dutch Kidney Foundation (Nierstichting) intends to participate in the initiative to develop treatments for patients with kidney disease, type 1 diabetes and osteoarthritis.

More information in the related press release: RegMed XB PR English.