European Health Product Manufacturers Call for MEP Support in Claims Ordeal

The European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) held a workshop entitled “Regulation of Generic Health Claims: 4 years on,” in the European Parliament on 28 April.

In a bid to get support from the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the EHPM called for the European Commission to review what was described as the ‘devastating’ impact, the current approach to the Regulation of Generic Health Claims (the Regulation) will have on the industry, and in particular SMEs, and consumer choice.

“The batch-wise approach to the adoption of the article 13 Community list of generic health claims, distorts the competition in the market and is one of the many concerns that our industry has on the current implementation process of this Regulation,” said Peter Van Doorn, the Chairman of EHPM. EHPM calls for a stop to the piecemeal adoption of article 13 list and a review of the impact of the legislation current implementation on industry, consumers and enforcement practices. Peter van Doorn indicated that an industry impact assessment is under way and should give preliminary results this summer.

Presentations were given demonstrating the ‘chaotic’ implementation of the Regulation due to lack of legal clarity and guidance, according to the Adebiotech Report for French DG for Competitiveness, Industry and Services that presented the results of a survey done on French companies, including SMEs.

French SMEs in addition felt that the current application of the Regulation would ‘dry up’ the market for functional food products in France; innovation and development in the industry would slow down and that enforcement of the Regulation will be quite problematic.

In addition, according to eminent food lawyer Jean Savigny, the Regulation is not being implemented in accordance with the original intent of the EU Legislator when the regulation was brought into force.

Representatives of the Italian Ministry of Health presented their current national legislation giving consumer information on the use of botanical supplements based on traditional evidence, and highlighted the importance of recognition of this evidence and providing this information for consumers, as is currently the case for traditional herbal medicinal products.

The Regulation of Generic Health Claims requires that generic health claims (function claims) based on generally accepted scientific evidence must first be approved by the European Commission and Member States following the consultation of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and be included in a positive Community list of claims before they can be used in the labelling and advertising of foods.

The Community list of claims was due to be published in January 2010, however, EFSA has only delivered its opinions on the validity of 939 out of 4000 consolidated claims submitted to date, in two batches. The Commission issued a first proposal for a positive list of article 13 claims that was presented to the Member States Standing Committee this week and was not voted on due to the indications given by several member states, who wanted further discussion of this issue.

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