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IADSA briefs - June 2009

Trade associations call for a formal dialogue on article 13 health claims process
Three European trade associations are calling for the European Commission to reassess the process for developing the article 13 list of health claims.

The European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM), the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA) and the European Botanical Forum (EBF) have expressed deep concerns about the way in which article 13 of the EU nutrition and health claims is being implemented and that issues with the process should be urgently addressed before the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) releases its first article 13 claims evaluation at the end of July.

The three federations represent more than 2,500 food supplements manufacturers, of which 80 percent are small and medium sized companies.

"We fear that the current process will lead to dismissal of a majority of the article 13 entries, not because of insufficient substantiation but because of a lack of clarity on an important number of issues that should first be addressed," said Gert Krabichler, Chairman of ERNA. "Therefore we believe that the EC should take the time to carefully clarify all issues in a formal dialogue with stakeholders."

Concerns heighten for botanicals in EFSA claims assessment process
The European Botanical Forum (EBF) this month expressed concern over the future of botanical products in light of the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) method for assessing botanical claims.

The EBF, which represents the main botanical ingredients and food supplements manufacturers in the European Union (EU), voiced fears that if EFSA refuses to accept criteria that are sufficient for pharmaceutical herbal products, based on traditional knowledge, it could lead to the eradication of their products.

Botanical food supplements rely on information on the intended use and health effects, which are covered by the EU claims legislation and are currently on EFSA's table for assessment.

EFSA recently sent back to the Commission more than half of the approximately 4000 claims received for further clarification, including many botanical claims, which according to the EBF "shows that something is fundamentally wrong with the process."

Patrick Coppens, EBF Secretary-General, said: "We support the claims regulation and have tried to address the request for clarification the best way we could, but we have found so many inconsistencies in this request that we have grave doubts about the coherency of the process and have even more unanswered questions. We strongly believe this process cannot credibly proceed and have requested to the Commission that it enables such reassessment with all parties involved around the table before the first opinions are published."

Singapore allows use of five new health claims on food products
Singapore's recent decision to allow five new nutrient specific diet-related health claims on certain food products will encourage research and development of healthy food products, international food and nutrition policy consultancy EAS has said.

The five additional claims, which cover calcium and vitamin D, sodium, saturated fat and trans fat, fibre and dietary fibre, require basic nutrition criteria to meet before an application can be made for their use, and details about the claims can be found on the AVA's website.

Commenting on the Singapore Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority's (AVA) decision to allow five additional claims on relevant food products that have been approved to carry the Health Promotion Board's 'Healthier Choice' symbol, EAS Asia Regional Director Daniel Tsi said that the move shows the Authority is receptive to the growing health trends and developments among industry and consumers.

"This set of diet related health claims from Singapore is the first in Southeast Asia, a major step forward in opening up the use of health claims for food products based on scientific evidence," said Dr Tsi. "The idea is to prevent misuse of the health claims and also for food industry to play a role in addressing main public health issues like high blood pressure, sufficient intake of fruits and vegetables. This will be a good incentive for companies to develop new and innovative healthy food products."

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