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Will Europe ban general health claims such as 'antioxidant?'

Will Europe ban general health claims such as 'antioxidant?'

EHPM, a food supplement trade association, urges the European Commission not to ban general health claims such as "energy, anti-aging properties and digestive function." Will the European Commission listen?

Food supplement trade association EHPM has told the European Commission that it should not automatically ban health claims that have been rejected by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for relating to “general and non-specific benefits.”

Such claims are considered to be out of the scope of the EU’s Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation. As a result, EFSA has issued negative opinions to any submitted for approval.

However, EHPM said that Article 10.3 of the regulation allows references to general and non-specific benefits—provided they are accompanied by a specific and approved health claim.

This means, according to EHPM, that claims rejected by EFSA on the grounds that they are too general should still be permitted for use and the Commission should not take steps to outlaw them when it moves to ban health claims rejected for other reasons, such as a lack of proof of cause and effect.

EHPM highlighted the following claims as examples of general and non-specific claims rejected by EFSA:

  • antioxidant
  • energy
  • vitality
  • metabolic effects
  • general health
  • anti-aging properties
  • women's health
  • absorption of nutrients
  • digestive function
  • function of cell membrane
  • immune system

Cynthia Rousselot, EHPM director of European Policy, said: “Many of the unfavorable opinions are the result of failures in the procedures—namely a lack of clarity on a number of important issues. The first opportunity that the sector had to discuss EFSA’s assessment of the Article 13 claims came three years after the claims were submitted and after EFSA had already delivered opinions on 936 claims.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission has officially approved the use of stevia in foods and beverages. Products containing the zero-calorie natural sweetener will be permitted for sale in all EU countries from Dec. 2, 2011.

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