EFSA publishes draft health claims guidance

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health claims Nutrition

The European Food Standards Authority has today published its draft
guidance document for the submission of applications under the new
nutrition and health claims regulation, giving the clearest insight
yet of the impact the legislation will have on industry.

Publication of guidance on submissions has been much anticipated by the food industry, which has been mulling over how the regulation will affect their businesses ever since it was adopted last May.

Companies have been urged to start putting systems in place to ensure they are in as strong a position as possible, both to ensure existing claims can still be made and to prepare for claims they may wish to make in the future.

The publication of the draft guidance document today follows some initial guidance published in March, but companies were advised to wait for the comprehensive documents before submitting any claims.

The new draft relates only to authorisation of health claims under article 14 of the regulation - that is, reduction of disease risk claims and claims referring to children's development and health.

However it is expected that it will be updated later to include applications for claims under article 18 - that is, those on the EC list that are based on newly developed evidence and which include a request for proprietary data protection.

"It is intended that the guidance will be kept under review and will be amended as appropriate in the light of evidence gained from evaluation of health claim applications," said EFSA.

The draft document, prepared by the Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies, can be accessed via EFSA's website .

It is expected that it will be amended as appropriate in light of comments received prior to the deadline of June 17.

In the meantime a meeting in Parma, Italy, is planned for June 11 for stakeholders to discuss and share views with panel chair Professor Albert Flynn, panel members, and EFSA scientists.

Another controversial aspect of the health claims regulation is nutrient profiles - that is, the content criteria for foods that may make nutrition and health claims.

EFSA said today that it is "progressing with work" on this, and a scientific colloquium is planned for September.

European member states are presently compiling lists of claims that are well established.

They must be submitted to EFSA by January 2008, and EFSA will then have two years to draw up its own list of established claims.

It is understood that there is considerable collaboration going on between the member states with industry groups the CIAA, EHPM and ERNA compiling generic lists.

But at the recent AACC meeting in Montpellier, France, industry consultant Prof David Richardson advised companies to find out where member states are up to with their lists, what is on them, and to consider how they will benefit the industry.

"If food is not on the positive list by 2010 it will have to work very hard to get it on the list to be able to make a claim in the future."

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