The Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Dalton reports:
European scientific authorities Thursday rejected dozens of health claims made by food companies, in a sign of how tricky it will be for them to get some of their most popular claims past a European Union drive to bring scientific rigor to the health foods.
A panel of the European Food Safety Authority issued nearly a hundred opinions on health claims, about two-thirds of which were negative. The rejections included claims on special bacteria that are supposed to aid digestion and boost the immune system, beta carotene additives for sunscreen and shark cartilage for healthy joints.
The panel rejected two-thirds of the claims, and half of these were rejected because the substance in question wasn’t adequately described, the EFSA said in a statement. The claims that were accepted related mainly to vitamins and minerals known to promote health, dietary fiber, fatty acids for lowering cholesterol and sugar-free gum that is good for the teeth.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has posted these opinions, and a survey of them shows an interesting regulatory model. Information online includes:
“General Function” health claims such as “calcium is good for your bones” are defined by article 13.1 of the Regulation. These claims are based on generally accepted scientific evidence. A consolidated list of these claims is currently being evaluated by EFSA.
“New function” health claims defined under Article 13.5 of the Regulation are based on new scientific evidence and/or for which protection of proprietary data is requested. They require applicants to provide scientific evidence substantiating the claim proposed for a specific product or substance.
Claims regarding disease risk reduction and child development or health. These kinds of claims, defined under Article 14 of the Regulation, require applicants to provide scientific evidence substantiating the claim proposed for a specific product or substance.
Criteria for setting nutrient profiles. Nutrient profiles are nutritional requirements that foods must respect in order to bear nutrition and health claims. Nutrient profiles are established by the European Commission and Member States.
I’d love to hear what ScienceBloggers think of the EFSA’s process and work. The opinions are all online here!