European health claims rethink will benefit industry

A European Commission decision to fast track health claims based on newly developed science and those requiring proprietary data protection will assist proactive companies seeking to keep ahead of the competition, according to Belgium-based consultancy, EAS.

These kinds of claims, classified under Article 13.5 of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, will be processed at an accelerated rate as well as the exclusive use of proprietary data for five years.

"Such submissions are vital for companies that invest in scientific research for new claims," said EAS food law manager, Patrick Coppens. "When a company has invested in research it doesn't necessarily want to be put on a list that can be used by all of the competition. Article 13.5 allows data protection, which means that competitors must have similar data of their own to submit in order to make the same claim. It is at least some return on investment."

He said that the decision to allow these claims to be submitted in February 2008 rather than waiting until the final cut-off in 2010 will boost industry competitiveness on the European Union food market.

The authorisation procedure is expected to take a maximum of eight months, with submitted claims under Article 13.5 able to be employed in the interim.

"Those claims currently in use that are not based on proprietary data should already be scientifically justified, which makes it difficult to say the claim is based on newly developed scientific evidence," he added. "Such claims should be introduced into the Article 13 list before the deadline of 31 January. If they are not, then the companies would either have to withdraw their claim when the claims list is established in 2010, or in the intervening time submit a file to have it approved under the Article 13.5 procedure."

To listen to the full podcast interview with Patrick Coppens, visit

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