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DISPATCHES FROM VITAFOODS EUROPE 2012

Winning EFSA over is only half the health claims battle

By Nathan Gray from Geneva , 29-May-2012

There is a fine line to tread between scientific accuracy and consumer understanding when it comes to EFSA approved health claims, says the director general of the European Food Information Council.

Providing solid evidence to EFSA for the substantiation of health claims is proving to be a huge battle for many in the industry. But perhaps the biggest battle comes if and when claims are approved by the regulatory body.

Helping consumers understand the claims that are approved by EFSA, is an area of the health claims regulation that has attracted very little attention in the past. However the topic is fast becoming a hot topic for the industry as many companies attempt to translate the 222 approved claims into on-pack messages for the general public.

Speaking at the recent Vitafoods conference and exposition in Geneva, Dr Josephine Wills, director general of the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) told NutraIngredients that only around 25% of consumers say they look at nutritional and health claim information when they are buying products.

Wills noted that some EFSA approved claims are ‘probably’ easier to understand than others, though noted that there has been very little research done on how well consumers understand the EFSA approved wordings.

“I do sympathise with what everybody is trying to do,” said Wills. “We have food producers and ingredient producers trying to make it easily understood for the consumers because that’s what the regulation says … But on the other hand we have EFSA and regulators trying to make it very scientifically accurate.”

“It’s going to be an interesting time to see how health claims actually develop to a point whereby its easily understood by consumers and they know what it means, but also the scientific elements are still there.”

You can find the full research conducted by EUFIC by clicking here .

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