Italy set to put Belfrit into law with final botanicals list and degree

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Italy has published a final decree which could bring a consolidated ‘Belfrit list’ into full European law as early as this autumn.

The country, which was the first of the three Belfrit countries (Belgium, France and Italy) to adopt the initial list in 2014, at first did so by amending its plant food supplement decree of 2012.

This initial amendment had two annexes - one containing the original Italian list and one with a combined Belfrit list. However, the plan had always been for this to be replaced with a single ‘merged list’ which was then written into European law, Luca Bucchini, managing director of Hylobates Consulting told us.

“With stakeholder feedback the plan was to merge the two lists; it took from 2014 to 2017 because of different positions,” he said – noting that some stakeholders defended the presence of plants in the Italian list despite scant evidence that those plants even existed.

“Belgium and France objected to some plants in the Italian list,” commented Bucchini. “In the meantime Belgium and France adopted the Belfrit list, though partially.”

Now Italy has notified the European commission (EC) on a consolidated list, which brings together the Italian and Belfrit list.

“If there are no objections by Member States, and I expect no significant objections, the decree will be adopted, probably in the autumn,” said the Rome-based Italian legal expert.

“Ingredient manufacturers as well as companies selling food supplements with plants in Italy should be ready to provide all documents required under the guidelines, when this decree is approved and becomes legally binding,” he said.

A consolidated list – but key differences remain

Bucchini said the new decree is ‘significant progress,’ and that Italian authorities should be praised for consolidating the lists – noting that harmonisation in the sector of botanicals will take a valuable step forward, despite remaining differences “even among Belfrit countries.”

For example, he noted that the Italian legislation brings it into line with Belfrit in Belgium and France in terms of warnings for plants with hydroxyanthracenes, such as senna, but that Italy (unlike Belgium) has not included upper limits for active constituents.

The Italian notification also includes other warnings, as well as compositional requirements, for some plants which differ from those in France and Belgium, he said.

“Stakeholders should check the implications for their own preparations, keeping in mind that the list it longer and similar, but not identical, to the Belgian or French lists,” he said.

According to Bucchini, another key difference from French legislation is that medicinal legislation is not quoted: “Italian authorities do not plan to use medicinal legislation extensively to decide whether the composition of a product is suitable for food supplement use.”

Further points of note

Further ‘interesting items’ in the new decree include the addition of plants onto the consolidated list which were excluded from the original Belfrit list.

“This include Muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth) which is actually listed as banned in Belgium,” said the Italian expert.

The list also clarifies that Wasabia japonica, the source of the Japanese wasabi, is not a novel food - which for some time had been the “unsustainable position of some authorities.”

Despite these changes, the Wasabia japonica plant is still not listed as permitted in Belgium or France.

“It also clarifies the status of chilli and maize used in food supplements, in line with Belgium and France.”

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