Norwegians boycott disputed food additives

Retailers resort to voluntary agreement after European Commission refuses ban

Norway's major retail chains are to boycott products containing a number of controversial food additives, including nitrate and nitrite preservatives, AZO dyes and cyclamates. The move follows the refusal of the European Commission on 22 November to allow Norway to impose tighter controls on food additives (ENDS Daily 25 November 1999).

There is growing resistance in Norway, Sweden and Denmark (ENDS Daily 30 November 1999) to Brussels' strict interpretation of the EU treaty's "environmental guarantee" clause which, in theory, permits countries to apply stricter environmental and health standards than allowed under EU directives.

According to a leader in the Bergens Tidende newspaper, the retailers consulted with the government before announcing their decision, "which in practice means that the EU directive[s] will be meaningless". The chains "will commit themselves to maintaining current strong restrictions on additives", the newspaper continues.

The report coincides with statements by politicians implying that the government has decided against invoking the powers of veto it enjoys under the European Economic Area agreement (EEA). That course of action, which would have been unprecedented, has been widely predicted in recent months.

Follow Up:
Norwegian health ministry, +47 22 24 84 02; Bergens Tidende, e-mail: allmeningen@bergens-tidende.no

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