Grapevine & Wine 03/03/2014

New international rules for food safety and wine

The sector has thus turned to the OIV to obtain harmonised responses that guarantee the protection of consumer health and contribute to the food safety of vitivinicultural products

Over recent years, the vitivinicultural industry has been increasingly confronted with problems related to the topic of "food safety and wine". The sector has thus turned to the OIV to obtain harmonised responses that guarantee the protection of consumer health and contribute to the food safety of vitivinicultural products. The 12th Matinée des Œnologues has enabled the OIV to take stock of these issues.

Bringing together numerous experts in the sector every year, the Matinée des Œnologues, which was held on 14 February in Gradignan, provided a forum for discussion and debate on the food safety issues that have impacted the wine sector. On this occasion, the Head of the "Oenology and Methods of Analysis" Unit of the OIV, Guido Baldeschi, revisited the main activities conducted in this area, especially within the "Oenology" and "Safety and Health" Commissions of the OIV:

Allergens: setting limits of detection and quantification

The work was coordinated by the OIV, within the "Allergens" Task Force. Thanks to the Organisation's efforts, the labelling of wines treated with potentially allergenic egg-based or milk-based compounds might not need to be made obligatory when the compounds' presence in the final product is lower than the limit of detection set by the OIV (Regulation No 579/2012 of the Commission).

Phthalates: establishing methods of determination

Faced with a new foreign trade situation, in 2013 the General Assembly of the OIV adopted by consensus two resolutions relating to the determination of phthalates in wines and spirituous beverages. The resolutions OIV-SCMA 477-2013 and OIV-SCMA 521-2013, which have been added to the Compendium of International Methods of Wine and Must Analysis, provide tools for promoting more suitable conditions for trade and competition within the wine and spirit sector.

Additionally, an international interlaboratory test involving both Member and non-Member States of the OIV was established to obtain the precision parameters for these methods.

Additives in China: international expertise

Coordinated by the OIV, an "Additives" Task Force was created with the support of the OIV Member States, composed of France, Argentina, Australia, Greece and Italy. Its purpose is to provide the Chinese authorities with dossiers on evaluation techniques, allowing them to develop their regulations on additives authorised for use in wine production.

Codex Alimentarius: recognition of the specificity of the sector

The OIV is participating as an observer in the work of the Codex Alimentarius on additives to ensure the proposals of the General Standard for Food Additives, drafted by the Codex Alimentarius, are followed up. The OIV thus created a specific Task Force, open not only to OIV Members and Observers, but also to Codex Alimentarius Members. This Task Force is to evaluate the proposals that will be submitted to the Codex Alimentarius, regarding wine additives that have not yet been accepted by the OIV.

Through the several matters arising from often unexpected health situations, the OIV representative stressed the responsiveness of the Organisation's Member States, which has made it possible to propose consensus solutions based on scientific principles in order to respond to producers' constraints and guarantee food safety for consumers. Recalling the high level of growth in the world wine trade, Guido Baldeschi indicated some areas where, in accordance with his assignment, the OIV increasingly has a duty to contribute. He referred, firstly, to the international harmonisation of existing practices and standards in order to improve the conditions under which vitivinicultural products are produced and commercialised, and, secondly, to increasing awareness of the interests of consumers.

di S. C.