On December 5, the European Commission rubber-stamped 222 health claims that will form the basis of an EU ‘general list’ of approved structure-function claims that can be used by any company meeting the conditions of use. The list will now go forward to be debated by the European Parliament, which has 90 days to scrutinize the list before voting to accept or reject it.
Among those calling for the Parliament to reject the Commission’s proposed heath claims list is the Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH), a pro-natural health campaign group.
Robert Verkerk, executive and scientific director of ANH, said: “Ensuring consumers are not given false and misleading claims, the key objective of the regulation, is laudable. But removing the majority of claims, some 92 percent of those evaluated, on the basis of scientific methods that are derived from a pharmaceutical rather than nutritional science model is simply madness.”
He continued, “With so few claims authorized—and unauthorized claims banned—European consumers will be thrown into an information-free void in which they will find it much harder to discriminate between healthy and less healthy foods. Given that diet- and lifestyle-related diseases now represent the biggest burden on healthcare systems in the western world, approving the existing short list of claims would be counterproductive from the perspective of health policy.”
ANH said the regulation as it stands was “both legally disproportionate and unfair, both on small businesses and the public.”
Verkerk called on the industry to act fast to influence MEPs before they vote on the list. “Industry and consumer groups will need to decide quickly if they are for or against this regulation,” he said. “Complaining about it, yet not asking MEPs to block its passage, will only serve to muddy the decision.”