Tag Archives: Vytenis Andriukaitis

World Cancer Day

“Reliable data is an important aspect of the EU’s approach to cancer, along with tackling risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, pesticides and pollution, screening for diagnosis and treatment, research, and connecting expertise through the European Reference Networks and joint actions “. Said Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Discussing cancer related issues is never easy. At the same time, given that the disease is still the second leading cause of death in the EU, there is a constant need for a robust, well informed response to it in order to contribute to the prevention, early detection, and adequate treatment. The European Cancer Information System (ECIS) website launched on the occasion of World Cancer Day by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s in-house science and knowledge service, allows experts and practitioners to explore geographical patterns and trends. It gathers data from around 150 European population-based cancer registries covering 25 EU Member States and 7 non-EU European countries providing valuable information on howwell national cancer programmes are actually working, and address shortcomings.  “The European Cancer Information System is an excellent example of our support for decision-makers and researchers across the EU and beyond. It allows for the assessment and monitoring of the disease across regions and countries, following trends over time and helping to gather information that could lead to a further decrease of cancer rates.” explained Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, responsible for the Joint Research Centre. EU has been supporting research to fight cancer since 1985 through its research and innovation programmes. These efforts focus on developing patient-oriented strategies to prevent, cure and help people live with cancer. With funding totalling €2.4 billion since 2007, European #cancer research has been leading personalised medicine approaches and efforts to understanding cancer biology as well as better prevention, treatment and care solutions.


Falsification of medicines strict enforcement of rules

“While the report published today finds measures taken by Member States to be satisfactory, penalties are only effective if they are well-enforced. Falsified medicines can kill. Therefore, I urge all EU countries to make sure that criminals falsifying medicines are punished. I seize the opportunity to remind that thanks to the common EU logo which helps identify legal online pharmacies that sell authentic and safe products, citizens can be helped to steer clear of falsified medicines. I encourage all online shoppers to stay safe by looking out for the logo and ensuring that an online pharmacy is legitimate before making a purchase.” Said Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

The report on the application of penalties for those involved in the production and circulation of falsified medicines published today shows a wide variation in penalties across the EU. Maximum prison sentences for the falsification of medicines range from one year (Sweden, Finland and Greece) to 15 years (Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia); and maximum fines range from €4300 (Lithuania) to €1 million (Spain) and ‘unlimited’ (UK). The report comes following the requirement enshrined in the Falsified Medicines Directive (2011/62/EU) that all EU countries put in place proportionate, effective and dissuasive penalties for those involved in the production and circulation of falsified medicines. Furthermore, Member States and stakeholders are working on a pan-EU authentication system for medicines scheduled to enter into force in February 2019. This means that the authenticity of prescription medicines will be checked before they are dispensed to patients.

Novel food: new regulation enter into force in EU market

”These changes will make the process of authorising and placing novel food on the European market  simpler, quicker and more applicant friendly, while fully ensuring food safety. We hope that this will add to the variety already present on the EU market of healthy, nutritious traditional and innovative foods.” European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis welcomed the new regulation.

The new Regulation on Novel Food is applicable from 1 January 2018. The regulation brings significant improvements and changes to the novel food authorisation procedure. It includes an expanded definition for novel food to account for innovation and technology advances in the food sector, a centralised EU-wide authorisation system of novel foods and of traditional foods from third countries, a list of all authorised novel foods in the EU, and data protection provisions for the applicants. Before being authorised all novel foods must be scientifically proven to be safe to public health. The authorisation then sets out the conditions for their use, their designation as food and labelling requirements. For more information on the new Novel Food Regulation see here.

What is Novel Food?

Novel Food is defined as food that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force.

‘Novel Food’ can be newly developed, innovative food, food produced using new technologies and production processes, as well as food which is or has been traditionally eaten outside of the EU.

Examples of Novel Food include new sources of vitamin K (menaquinone) or extracts from existing food (Antarctic Krill oil rich in phospholipids from Euphausia superba), agricultural products from third countries (chia seeds, noni fruit juice), or food derived from new production processes (UV-treated food (milk, bread, mushrooms and yeast)).

The underlying principles underpinning Novel Food in the European Union are that Novel Foods must be:

  • Safe for consumers
  • Properly labelled, so as not to mislead consumers
  • If novel food is intended to replace another food, it must not differ in a way that the consumption of the Novel Food would be nutritionally disadvantageous for the consumer

Pre-market authorisation of Novel Foods on the basis of an evaluation in line with the above principles is necessary.

EU new tool to facilitate the implementation of health policies

The European Commission is launching a Knowledge Gateway on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention to support the implementation of health policies across the EU.

Speaking at the launch event at the Commission’s Joint Research Centre site in Ispra, Italy, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “People’s dietary habits and lifestyle have an important impact on their health and quality of life. This is why I strongly encourage Member States and stakeholders to focus more on promoting good health. However, sometimes it can be complicated both for policy-makers and for the general public – we are so often presented with authoritative ‘facts’ on what constitutes good nutrition or proper physical activity and we have to navigate through a sea of misinformation, opinions, prejudices, and myths to find the truth.  Hence, I am delighted to launch today the Health Promotion and Prevention Gateway a ‘one-stop shop’ for independent and reliable information to help promote good health and prevent disease. I hope that it will become a reference point for public health policy-makers – in all sectors and at all levels – as well as a source of clear and reliable information for ordinary citizens.

The web portal provides reliable, independent and up-to date information on topics related to the promotion of health and the prevention of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer.  Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre which co-developed the Knowledge Gateway, added: “This tool was created with and for decision-makers in EU Member States working in the area of public health. Hundreds of research papers, multiple data sources and policy examples were digested and turned into short reference guides on key policy topics which summarise the most important facts for policy makers. The information is tailored to the needs of national policy making bodies and presented in a user-friendly format. This will help to formulate health policies based on rigorous and objective assessment criteria.” The launch of the Gateway follows the call for a healthy lifestyle made in Tartu, Estonia, on 22 September, which sets out a roadmap for promoting healthy lifestyles in Europe, particular amongst children, over the next two years.

EU to facilitate food donation


The Commission adopted today guidelines to facilitate food donation in the EU, a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Welcoming the adoption, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “I am particularly happy that today, on the occasion of the World Food Day, we have a good news to report. In EU around 550.000 tons of food are redistributed to 6.1 million people by food banks in the EU, but that’s only a fraction of the estimated volume of food which could be redistributed to prevent food waste and help fight food poverty. I am convinced that the guidelines adopted today will not only help industry and charity organisations to make their job easier and hence provide to those in greatest need but also become a reference for national authorities and operators to facilitate food donation in the EU”.

The aim is to clarify relevant EU legislation and help lift barriers to food donation. The EU guidelines will help donors and recipients of surplus food to make sure that they respect relevant requirements such as food hygiene and food information to consumers, thereby ensuring safe food donation practices. The guidelines also promote common interpretation of EU rules applicable to food donation, including those related to VAT.  The EU guidelines were developed by the Commission in close cooperation with the members of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste bringing together Member States, international organisations, industry, food banks and other charity organisations.

EU call for sustainable use of pesticides

The report on the sustainable use of pesticides Directive adopted  by the Commission takes stock of progress made by the EU Member States in applying measures to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticides.

“I know first-hand that citizens are concerned about the impact of the use of pesticides on their health and the environment. We take these concerns into consideration and we are working with the Member States to achieve sustainable use of pesticides in the way we grow and produce our food. I will continue encouraging and supporting Member States in their task of implementing the measures to reduce risks derived from the use of pesticides”. Said  Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Commenting on the report.

It covers a wide range of topics such as aerial spraying, information to the public or training of professionals. The report indicates insufficient implementation of the Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides.