Beginning July 1, 2007, the EU’s new Health Claims Regulation will enforce harmonized rules for the use of nutrition and health claims on food and drinks. This move will be embraced by ORAFTI, world leader in natural prebiotic ingredients, and a company which prides itself on scientifically substantiating all of its nutrition and health claims.
The new legislation aims to ensure fair competition as well as to promote and protect innovation in the areas of food and beverages. Only products offering genuine health and/or nutritional benefits will be allowed to refer to them on their labels. Wim Caers, Regulatory Manager at ORAFTI comments, “We are hopeful that the adoption of this new legislation will ensure that any claim made on a food label in the EU is clear, accurate and substantiated, thus enabling consumers to make informed and meaningful choices when it comes to food and drinks with nutritional or health benefits.” The use of nutrition/health claims will be subject to some restrictions with nutritional profiles as an example.
In recent years, as consumers have become increasingly concerned about what they eat and how this affects their health and well being, the food industry has responded with innovation as well as by providing more detailed nutritional labelling and often making claims about the beneficial effects of certain foods. But without rules on labelling, consumers can be misled with claims that have not been substantiated. Wim Caers further comments, “We hope that proper enforcement of the new legislative framework will be effective in preventing abuse in this area.” In reaction to the proliferation of the number and type of claims appearing on food labels and the absence of specific guidelines at the EU level, some member states have adopted independent measures to regulate their use. This has resulted in numerous approaches and discrepancies between claim definitions. The adoption of this new proposal, covering nutrition, health and reduction of disease-risk claims, aims to bring harmony throughout the 27 member states. Wim Caers adds “The EU has gone a long way to fill the gap between countries that don’t have any health claim labelling regulation and certain other areas of the world where specific legislation has existed for some time.”
Thanks to at least one company’s research-driven approach, the new EU legislation will not dramatically impact upon the way in which ORAFTI operates. ORAFTI has always dedicated a large amount of time and resources to scientifically substantiating its proposed health claims - undertaking in excess of 300 studies, including about 100 human intervention studies on chicory inulin, oligofructose and oligofructose-enriched inulin.
Under the new regulations, a list of pre-approved claims will be established (Article 13) and ORAFTI will submit proposals for claims including digestive health and improved regularity, the stimulation of a healthy microflora, and increased calcium absorption and bone mineral density. In time, as more research data becomes available, other submissions under the new procedures will be prepared. Thus, the efforts that ORAFTI currently puts into scientific research will become even more important over time. A number of grey areas do, however, remain under the new legislation, including clarification of what is deemed to be “scientific evidence” and how the various nutritional profiles will be determined.
ORAFTI is confident that this new legislation will stimulate detailed scientific research in the food industry and this will help European consumers to get more accurate information on the composition and properties of food products. This will in turn allow consumers to make ever more informed choices when purchasing their food and beverages.
About ORAFTI Group
ORAFTI Group is a subsidiary of the Belgian agro-food group Raffinerie Tirlemontoise/Tiense Suikerraffinaderij, and is part of the ORAFTI/PALATINIT ingredients unit of the Südzucker Group. ORAFTI Group produces Beneo™ inulin and oligofructose from chicory roots for human and animal nutrition. ORAFTI Group's head office is in Tienen, Belgium and the company operates in more than 75 countries, with production units in Oreye (Belgium), Pemuco (Chile), Wijchen (The Netherlands) and Wijgmaal (Belgium). The ORAFTI Group also includes REMY INDUSTRIES, world-leading producer of rice-based ingredients.
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