The European Commission's Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) approved regulations specifying the Article 14 health claims that can be made for children's products containing ALA and DHA, according to meeting minutes. The net result is that for the moment a claim on DHA and visual development has been approved, the DHA brain development claims were rejected, and the ALA brain development claim has been delayed.
The claim on ALA and brain development was removed from the regulation because there is still further debate from the Member States on the conditions of use for the claim. The Commission said it will move the debate forward on this topic and include the claim in a future regulation for SCoFCAH to consider.
The visual development claim for DHA was approved for use on products targeting infants up to 12 months of age. The Member States debated extending this claim to all children up to 18 years of age, but similar debate around the conditions of use led the Commission to approve the claim for the original infant population. Depending on the outcome of the ALA claim debate, we believe there may be further opportunity to expand the target population at a later date.
Importantly, the claim has been approved for ANY product targeting children up to 12 months of age, rather than just infant formulas. Some Member States objected to this on the grounds that it would interfere with the goals of national breastfeeding campaigns, but the Commission said these issues were already addressed by regulations covering the marketing of infant products.
The DHA claim for brain development was rejected because the Member States felt there was not enough advice from EFSA to set appropriate conditions of use. EFSA has previously stated that its advice on ALA brain development claims should apply to DHA as well, but there is no agreement from Member States on the conditions for using the ALA claim so a DHA claim may need to be resubmitted at a later date.
Indeed, GOED has heard that senior officials in the Commission have stated that the DHA claims may need to be resubmitted later to have the scientific evidence fully recognized in children's claims.
Lina Paulionis from Cantox will be covering many of these issues on a panel at the GOED Exchange in two weeks.