STC Number - 367

Prohibition of certain food additives in traditional foods

Maintained by: Turkey
Raised by: Japan
Supported by: Chile; European Union; United States of America
First date raised: October 2013 G/SPS/R/73, paras. 3.55-3.58
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/TUR/31
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In October 2013, Japan expressed concerns regarding Turkey's new measures which prohibit the use of several additives in some of its traditional foods. Recognizing the importance of traditional foods, Japan noted that Turkey's regulations do not provide a description of kofte. Japan requested that Turkey provide a scientific justification, in terms of food safety, for the prohibition of the use of glutamic acid which is listed in table 3 of the Codex General Standard for Food Additives. If the objective of the prohibition was to preserve traditional culture, then Turkey should bring this matter to the attention of the TBT Committee.
The European Union also indicated its serious concerns with respect to Turkey's new measures on food additives, highlighting procedural and content-related shortcomings. Furthermore, Turkey did not provide a meaningful opportunity for trading partners to comment, since the measures were notified after their entry into force. The European Union urged Turkey to notify its measure under the TBT Agreement and to clearly define which products fell within the category of traditional products. The European Union also questioned Turkey's claims that its new requirements on food additives complied with EU legislation and that they were in line with the CODEX General Standards.
The United States expressed its support for the statements made by the European Union and Japan. Chile also shared Japan's concern and underscored the importance of following international standards and of providing 60 days to comment on notifications.
Turkey recalled that it had notified its new regulations under G/SPS/N/TUR/31. As a candidate country to the European Union, Turkey had aligned its animal and plant health legislation so as to comply with the EU regulations on food additives. However, additional provisions covering traditional Turkish products had also been introduced. This was done in order to protect the originality of these products, taking into consideration consumption habits and traditional ingredients. Some of the additives prohibited for use in these traditional products were listed in annex 6 of the Codex General Standard for Food Additives. The traditional products themselves contained glutamic acid as part of their own substances and did not require glutamic acid as an additive. The products were specific to Turkey and should not differ from the familiar taste nor cause a consumer reaction in the domestic market. Additionally, Turkey reported that monosodium glutamate was prohibited in fermented Turkey sausages and pastrami. With regard to bread, any food additive other than ascorbic acid was prohibited in products. Additives would be permitted for products which were subject to international trade in order to protect their specialties. Turkey's regulation generally complied with the EU regulation, with the following exceptions: (i) some food additives were banned in some traditional foods; (ii) no food additives could be used in non-pre-packaged breads; (iii) pig origin additives could not be used in foods, food additives, food enzymes and food flavourings in consideration of religious sensitivities (iv) the origin of the food additives must be stated on the labels to take into account the preferences of vegetarians; and (v) if the additive was of animal origin, the animal name must be stated on the labels.