Europe’s food and beverage industry has warned there remains "much uncertainty" around what evidence is required to support gut health and immunity health claims – despite the European Food Safety Authority staging a technical workshop to address the subject.
The workshop, held on December 2, was designed to dispel confusion surrounding the submission of gut health and immunity health claims applications under the European Union’s Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation.
CIAA, the Brussels-based trade body representing European food and beverage manufacturers, said the event was a "step in the process of providing industry with the clarity which it seeks on how to compile applications in this exciting new and emerging science."
But it added: “In the course of the workshop, however, it became apparent that there is still much uncertainty as to what is required by way of the scientific substantiation of such claims. The consequence of this is that there is still insufficient clarity for industry applicants and a need, therefore, to re-examine the process for dealing with claims in this and other areas of new and emerging science.
"Quite clearly it was not possible to resolve all outstanding issues of uncertainty during this one workshop and further exchanges on this and other types of health claims are foreseen in the future."
CIAA director general Mella Frewen urged the European Commission to appropriate the funding that would enable EFSA’s scientists to discuss individual health claims submissions with applicants face-to-face.
"One significant move towards improving the evaluation procedure could, we believe, be achieved by introducing pre-submission meetings between EFSA and the applicant, as is the case for applications made to the European Medicines Evaluation Agency," she said. "We understand that this is being considered by EFSA but that they do not yet have the means to introduce such a process. The CIAA would support moves to give EFSA the resources needed to achieve this."