The European Commission’s decision to adopt a proposal allowing a transition period for health claims referring to children’s development and health has been welcomed by trade association EHPM.
Commenting on the new proposal to amend the EU’s Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation that the Commission adopted on June 28 – just three days before the Regulation became applicable – the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) said that the move marked a clear recognition of the urgency of the issue.
The Regulation’s lack of transition period for claims referring to children’s development and health (article 14) has long been a concern for food companies, many of whom already use such claims on products in the EU market.
Provisions on children’s claims were introduced at a very late stage of the Regulation’s adoption procedure without providing for transitional measures. As the Regulation stands, products that were not placed on the market or labelled before 1 July this year (when the Regulation became applicable) would not be allowed to make claims that refer to children’s development and health. Companies therefore, would have to stop making these claims on their products and wait for up to two years for a possible authorisation to able to use the same claim again. EHPM has consistently pointed out this omission to the authorities.
The Commission’s proposal to amend the Regulation said: “In order to avoid disruption of the market, it is appropriate to submit claims referring to children development and health to the same transitional measures as the other health claims.”
The proposal applies to claims referring to children’s development and health that have been used in compliance with national provisions before 19 January 2007. EU Member States that have evaluated and authorised these claims would be required to present reports to the Commission showing the related scientific substantiation by 31 January 2008. Thereafter, following a consultation with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and a decision via comitology, the Commission will adopt a decision.
Claims that were not evaluated and authorised in a Member State can continue to be used provided an application for authorisation (under articles 14-17) is made before 19 January 2008. In both cases if the final decision is negative, the claim in question will have to be phased out within six months.
Peter van Doorn, Chair of EHPM, said: “We are pleased that the Commission has seen the necessity to amend this aspect of the regulation. A transitional period will ensure that food companies have enough time to make a smooth transition.”
The text has been officially sent to the European Parliament and the Council for an adoption in co-decision.
The European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) represents more than 2000 specialist health product manufacturers in Europe.