The European Food Safety Authority's timeline for assessing more than 4,000 proposed Article 13 health claims suggests adoption of the final 'Community list' of approved claims will be delayed, according to Brussels-based EAS.
EFSA published the European Commission's list of 4,185 'generic claims' last month and set its first deadline for the assessment of 1,024 of these for the end of July 2009. A second deadline has been set for the end of November for the assessment of a further 468 claims.
However, a deadline for assessing the remaining 2,693 claims on the list, of claims, which are based on generally-accepted science, is yet to be agreed upon. And Stefanie Geiser, regulatory affairs manager at the consultancy's office in Italy, where EFSA is also based, said this meant the chances of the European Commission adopting its final Community list of article 13 claims by the end of January 2010 deadline set out in the Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation were slim.
"The final deadline has yet to be determined because EFSA is currently in the process of seeking specific clarifications for these claims from the European Commission and member states, and cannot proceed with its work before these have been received," she explained.
"Although the Commission has not yet officially announced a delay, the volume of claims and currently proposed evaluation time-lines illustrate that it will prove difficult for it to adopt the Community list of generic health claims by the official January 2010 deadline."
On the upside, said Geiser, should a delay in the adoption of the Community list occur, it would also mean an extension of the transition period granted for companies to get their products in line with the regulation.