Politics / Law

Health claims evaluations out

22.08.2011

Parma – The European Food Safety Authority has reached a first major milestone in its work on health claims. With the publication of its 6th and final series of evaluation results, the authority finished the scientific assessment of what are known as ”general function” claims. Since October 2008, the EFSA's NDA panel has reviewed 2,758 food-related general function health claims to determine whether they were backed up by scientific evidence. Based on the results of those assessments, the European Commission is due to present a list on the matter by the end of the year clarifying for consumers whether food products claiming to have a beneficial impact on health actually have such effects. Unconfirmed health claims may not be printed on food products half a year after the list has been published.
In its last 35 so-called §13.1 evaluations, the EFSA confirmed positive health effects for walnuts on blood vessel function, of certain fatty acids on heart function, and an antioxidative effect for the poly­phenols found in olive oil. However, scientists and food companies said the evaluation process and criteria had not been transparent enough at any stage of the assessment process (see EuroBiotechNews 3-4/2011).
The EFSA reacted to that criticism in mid-August by announcing plans to open a help desk to give food companies support and feedback on submitting dossiers for the assessment of health claims

“EFSA’s work on general function health claims has highlighted the importance of constructive dialogue between risk assessors, scientists, decision​makers and stakeholders, and has contributed to our thinking on the future shape of our organisation,” said EFSA executive director Cathe­rine Geslain-​Lanéelle. The plans appear similar to services just established by EU drug authority EMA, which also offers support to companies seeking product

approval.

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