Final verdict on health claims: 'we need a framework'

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Related tags: Efsa, Health claims, European commission, European parliament, European food safety authority

Europe's health product suppliers have called to delay the European Commission's (EC's) final evaluation of health claims until a framework is in place to assess the "totality of evidence". This follows the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA's) rejection of the majority of submitted health claims.

According to the European Federation of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM), EFSA is "breaching the proportionality of claims"​ by rejecting thousands because they lack data from clinical trials. EHPM says EFSA should have considered the totality of evidence.

It says the EC and Member States should reassess EFSA's criteria to make sure all data is available for assessing health claims, not just the EFSA 's "pharmaceutical approach"​ .

In December 2006 the EC introduced harmonised regulations on the use of nutrition and health claims for food. Since then EFSA has been reviewing thousands submitted under Article 13.1.

Julie Hayward, executive secretary of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a member of EHPM, said: "Nobody thought the new regulations would wipe out so many claims. After all, the majority of products have been on shelves for years without anyone finding anything wrong with them. Why should they now be not approved?"

Martin Last, chairman of EHPM, agrees. "Claims for food nutritional products are being assessed ... on their short-term effects instead of their long-term benefits. It is widely seen as flawed legislation. We're looking at what academics think, what consumers think, and it all points to it being a mess. Our members want to see the European Council reassess this."

Ultimately, the European Parliament will have the final say. "Everybody is waiting to see what happens next. But a clear message has gone out,"​ said Hayward.

Related topics: Legal

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