The EFSA ruling is the first official confirmation that cocoa flavanols have a positive impact on blood flow. It opens the way for a new market for Barry Callebaut's cocoa powder and chocolate products made through its patented Acticoa process.
Barry Callebaut announced today (July 17) that EFSA had issued a positive opinion on the company's health claim dossier submitted last year.
Following the positive opinion, the chocolate maker will be able to claim: "Cocoa flavanols help maintain endothelium-dependent vasodilation, which contributes to normal blood flow."
The firm was able to provide evidence that the intake of 200mg of cocoa flavanols – provided by 2.5g of high-flavanol cocoa powder or 10g of high-flavanol dark chocolate – positively influenced blood circulation in the human body.
The health claim is based on more than 20 human clinical studies examining various impacts of cocoa flavanols on the human body. The research was based on cocoa powder and chocolate products made through its Acticoa process, which results in high-flavanol cocoa products.
The process results in preserving up to 80% of cocoa flavanols, most of which would be destroyed during the conventional chocolate-making process, claims the firm.
Provided the European Commission further approves the health claim, Barry Callebaut will have the right to use the cocoa flavanols claim for five years within EU countries. The firm's customers would be able to apply the claim on their products and packaging. This would allow “them to differentiate their offerings from other products on the market and gain useful competitive advantage", said Barry Callebaut.
But David Jago, Mintel’s director of innovation, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that Barry Callebaut would find it “challenging” to use the health claim to competitive advantage on pack labelling. However, functional confectionery could become an important niche category, he added.
The claim “would probably help companies to formulate chocolate-based products in the health category”, said Jago.
“Why take a pill when you can have a chocolate product? Chocolate drinks – in a daily shot format – could do very nicely. But [introducing a functional product in] the mainstream chocolate market is very challenging”.
Applications for cocoa flavanols include: chocolate drinks, cereal bars and biscuits.
Juergen Steinemann, ceo of Barry Callebaut, said: "It is very valuable for us to now have an official positive scientific opinion from the EFSA that cocoa flavanols have a positive effect on human blood flow.
“As the first company receiving such a health claim, we see new market potential both for us and for our customers. The health claim is also a reward for our long years of extensive research in the benefits of cocoa flavanols on the human body.”