EFSA takes on Ocean Spray’s novel cranberry extract following intake concerns
At the request of the European Commission, EFSA has begun work on a scientific opinion on the powder for use in fruit-flavoured drinks, iced teas, flavoured waters and yoghurts in amounts of up to 80 mg of proanthocyanidins (PACs) per portion.
Cranberry extracts are already widely marketed in the EU as food supplements and medical devices for the treatment and prevention of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI).
However this novel food application filed originally with the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) refers to a powder containing polyphenols that do not have a history of consumption before the novel food cut-off date of 15 May 1997.
While the 2013 French opinion was favourable, the authority did have concerns about the high intake of polyphenols in children aged one to three.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency echoed these concerns and objected to the overall approval of the ingredient before more was known about the nutritional utility of the ingredient for children.
“Whilst the [FSA] Committee objected to the French CA’s [competent authority’s] favourable opinion, it agreed with the French CA that there was no evidence of any benefit in consuming polyphenols in quantities greater than those provided in everyday food and considered there was no value in children consuming this NI [novel ingredient]," the UK's FSA said in a meeting last February.
“It also agreed with the French Competent Authority about the possible risks associated with the consumption of the NI by children aged 1-3.”
It was estimated that the accumulated intake of polyphenols for these young children would be two to seven times higher than that of adults.
Ocean Spray said the UK FSA had subsequently withdrawn its objection after its concerns were met by Ocean Spray.
After publication Ocean Spray said: "While certain cranberry extracts may currently be used within the EU marketplace, Ocean Spray elected to submit its ingredient to EFSA for evaluation because it is a unique extract ingredient, produced using a different manufacturing process and is intended to be used in new ways to promote additional nutritional benefits."
"We believe that having the EFSA review will provide all EU members states with added confidence in the ingredient."