Innovative marketing solutions needed if EU follows EFSA trend on claims opinions

Innovative marketing solutions needed if EU follows EFSA trend on claims opinions

Food companies will need to become highly effective at developing new approaches to communication if the EU authorities adopt the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) opinions as they stand, EAS has said.

Food companies will need to become highly effective at developing new approaches to communication if the EU authorities adopt the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) opinions as they stand, EAS has said.

Following EFSA’s publication of its fourth batch of article 13 claims opinions, international food policy consultancy EAS said that with the majority of claims opinions for many key ingredient claims remaining unfavourable, if adopted this will result in traditional marketing limitations and the urgent need for innovative solutions.

EFSA issued 442 claims opinions last month on a range of ingredients, including in particular minerals, probiotics, fatty acids, amino acids and specific plant extracts, covering areas such as antioxidative, cognitive and bowel function and blood cholesterol.

“This batch illustrates and confirms that there has been little change in the EFSA approach for evaluations during the process,” said EAS Regulatory Affairs Manager Stefanie Geiser. “Companies, therefore, can already learn a lot from the opinions EFSA has given so far and incorporate this into new marketing strategies. They should also be carefully monitoring the ‘grey list’ developments, which will start very soon, and the final adoption process of the article 13 lists, and transition periods to be given.”

“The trend in the latest batch of opinions shows rejections related particularly to immune response or natural defences, digestive and intestinal health, vitality anti-ageing effects of plant extracts and many unfavourable opinions for a range of amino acids and other substances,” she continued. “It also repeats a trend of positive assessments for fatty acid heart related and chewing gum/sweetener dental health claims, and new positive claims for activated charcoal, betaine, caffeine, choline, resistant starch, l-arginine, olive polyphenols, meat/fish, walnuts and water.”

EFSA has now finalized 80 percent of its article 13.1 claims assessment process for all substances, excluding botanicals.

Around 600 claims are still in the process and expected to be published in a fifth batch at the end of June, and a sixth and final batch in September 2011.

The European Commission then intends to present its draft article 13.1 "Union list" of claims that are permitted in the EU for adoption by the Standing Committee by the end of the year. The Union list will exclude botanicals.

To address how food businesses can benefit from what has already been learnt in the claims evaluation process, and to help companies offset possible challenges, EAS claims experts including Geiser will hold a workshop on 9 June 2011 in Brussels, to give concrete advice on how to tackle the claims regulation.

Titled “Claims: Dealing with the present, planning for the future”, the workshop will give insight into the European Commission’s new policy for the adoption of the Article 13 list and strategies on how to best benefit from the Article 13 transition period, and the European Commission’s plans relating to claims for botanicals.

“The claims regulation has fundamentally changed the marketing rules for communicating health messages on food products,” said Geiser. "Besides watching and drawing conclusions from the general trend so far, it is now important to follow the next three EFSA public consultations on technical guidelines, which last from now until the end of August. These relate specifically to bone, joint or oral health, antioxidants or cardiovascular health, and weight management, satiety, and blood glucose concentrations, and we will be addressing the last status of discussions in the workshop."

At the workshop, the EAS advisers will also clarify the steps for companies wanting to submit further information on Article 13 claims that are still on the grey list, such as probiotics and "insufficient" claims, give tips towards the best chance of a successful claims application to EFSA and lay out the future playing field for claims in the EU.

For more information or to register for the workshop visit www.eas.eu

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