Soy protein health claim: EC should be ‘pragmatic’

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soy protein, Soybean, European commission

Soy protein health claim: EC should be ‘pragmatic’
The firms behind a high-profile ‘article 14’ health claim application about soy protein are hoping the European Commission will “adopt a pragmatic approach” as it reviews a controversial negative opinion on their application from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

According to EFSA, the Soya Protein Association, the European Vegetable Protein Federation and the European Natural Soyfood Association (ENSA) failed to establish that eating soy protein helped reduce LDL (’bad’) cholesterol.

However, the above groups argue their application was scuppered by EFSA’s “incredibly narrow” ​definition of soy protein, which by excluding soy protein isolates and isoflavones meant that just a fraction of the evidence they had submitted was considered pertinent to the claim.

Article 13.1 claims use identical soy protein definition

Unless the Commission accepted a broader definition of soy protein, all article 13.1 ‘generic’ health claim applications about soy currently sitting in EFSA’s in-tray were also doomed to failure, ENSA told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

“Both the article 13.1 and the article 14 claims on soy protein were submitted with an identical definition of the term soy protein”.

It added: “We do not understand and do not agree with the view of the EFSA to restrict the definition of soy protein only to alcohol-washed protein extract from soy, which resulted in the majority of scientific evidence not being assessed by EFSA.

“We hope that our comments can be taken into account with a view to the article 13.1 soy protein evaluation​ [which is not believed to be in the next batch of opinions to be released in October]. We hope the Commission will adopt a pragmatic approach on this dossier and consider all relevant scientific evidence before adopting a decision.”

Janice Harland from consultancy Harland Hall Associates, which lodged the application, added: “We know the Commission has referred our comments to EFSA, but you can lead a horse to water, but can't make it drink.”

80%+ failure rate

To date, EFSA has issued negative opinions on more than 80% of the article 13.1​ general function claims (which are based on 'generally accepted science') submitted.

This has prompted fears that only a handful of ingredients will in future be permitted to carry health claims​ in Europe, with the exception of minerals and vitamins.

Click here​ for a detailed analysis of the applicants’ comments to the Commission.

Related topics: Legal

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