EFSA’s Technical Meeting Leaves Many Issues Unresolved

Stakeholders attended a technical meeting organized by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, to voice their concerns on the nutrition and health claims.

Four-hundred-and fifty people attended the meeting titled, “Recent developments related to health claims” to have their concerns answered on the EU’s Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation.

The intention of the meeting was to provide stakeholders with information on the current status of EFSA's scientific health claim evaluations and to discuss with stakeholders the contentious issues. However, according to EHPM the meeting did not bring any new information to light and the discussion that were held lacked in substance.

“We are not surprised at the outcome of the meeting but are disappointed that the opportunity to have a proper dialogue on the current application of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation was not seized” says Peter van Doorn, chairman of EHPM. “We feel that many of the stakeholders’ major concerns were not taken up. The Regulation clearly states that there should be different types of assessments between Article 13.5/14 and 13.1 claims which is not the case in practice and despite several calls for a review of the whole process, these were ignored throughout the meeting.”

“This meeting did not provide the type of dialogue on article 13 issues that EHPM has been calling for”, adds Lorène Courrège, Director of Regulatory Affairs of EHPM. “Although EFSA wants to improve the dialogue with stakeholders, for example through a series of consultations on specific health topics such as immune function and gut health in autumn of 2010, we are very concerned these come too late and will not answer our current concerns on the application of article 13 of the Regulation as these are more designed for companies willing to submit a new dossier ”.

EFSA defended its choice to deliver its opinion in batches, a concern that has been raised by many in the sector, including EHPM. According to EFSA the publication of the opinions in batches is the only way to cope with the sheer amount of applications and that this has been a completely novel exercise and therefore had been guided by "learning by doing".

Finally, EFSA announced that the next publication of its scientific opinion on Article 13 claims of the Claims Regulation would be in September 2010 and that there will be three publication dates in 2011.

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