Late bid to change European Commission’s mind over health claims

A consortium of European health product trade groups has petitioned the European Commission to take a 'pause' to rethink its process on the approval of health claims before those claims are formally written into EU law.   A long list of health claims have already been evaluated and most have been rejected.  This, the trade groups say, is because an inappropriately high, 'pharmaceutical'  level of scientific proof was required when the claims dossiers were evaluated.

Industry leaders have launched a last-ditch attempt to persuade the European Commission to re-think the assessment of health claims submitted under the EU’s Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation.

Brussels-based trade body the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) said it had written to the Commission stating there was "ample proof that the Article 13.1 assessment process is breaching the proportionality of the claims regulation."

It urged officials to "pause" the process and re-consider how it is being handled before Article 13.1 health claims opinions are written into European law, when it will be too late.

The European Food Safety Authority, which is evaluating all claims submitted under the regulation, published its final batch of Article 13.1 opinions in July, bringing to an end a three-year long—and often rancorous—process.

Article 13.1 claims given a positive opinion, once ratified by the Commission, will go on to form a 'Community List' of approved health claims that can be used by any company. Those given negative opinions will be banned. About 80 percent of claims submitted have been issued negative opinions—and even most of those that have been approved are for essential vitamins and minerals. Many have argued that this is because level of science EFSA has demanded to substantiate claims is too high.

In a statement, EHPM called on EU member states to reconsider the way claims are assessed "to ensure that all of the available data is considered, and not accept the pharmaceutical approach with the reliance on intervention trials which appears to be followed by EFSA."

Chairman Peter Van Doorn added: "We have consistently voiced concern over the way in which the claims assessment process is being carried out, not least because of inappropriate criteria being used to evaluate

"The outcome of the process shows we have been right and we hope that the authorities will seriously consider the implications for both consumers and market innovation of the EFSA approach and halt the establishment of the article 13.1 list until a proper framework is put in place that is able to assess all health effects of food components and not only those that are equivalent to medical interventions."

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