The European Food Safety Authority has stressed in recent weeks that nutrition is one of its key priorities, and it is expected to play a key role in enforcement of the new regulation, drawing up nutrient profiles and evaluating dossiers on proposed claims.
The three-day symposium will be held in Bologna, Italy, November 8 to 10, and is open to all interested parties, including stakeholders. Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, executive director of the agency, said that feedback from stakeholders is important to the future of the agency:
"This dialogue is a tangible opportunity for actors working in the food and feed sectors and in the agency's area of competence to contribute to the Authority's upcoming work."
Far from resting on its laurels prior to the symposium, a spokesperson confirmed to NutraIngredients.com that EFSA is already in the middle of planning how it will carry out the work generated by the health claims regulation, and is keen to take on the task.
"We know what the regulation will look like and what the task will probably be."
There have been concerns about the adequacy of EFSA's budget over the coming years. The annual budget for the EU's 3B heading was €220 million in 2006, which €46.6 million was allocated to EFSA.
It was originally forecast that this would increase over time, to €290 million in 2013. However the Council proposed capping it €220 for 2007 to 2013, which means that the same funds will have to be stretched to cover the extra work on health claims.
"We don't think we will get any additional budget," said the spokesperson. "It has an impact on our budget and workload, but we already knew that and discussed it last year."
There have been some suggestions that EFSA will charge companies to review dossiers submitted under EU legislation - not just for health claims for others too, including the herbals directive, the food supplements Directive, and novel foods legislation.
The suggestion has been condemned by food industry and consumer groups, who believe small and medium enterprises will be unable to comply and be forced out of the market, resulting in less consumer choice.
After a protracted period of debate and compromise, the Health and Nutrition Claims Regulation was voted through by the European Parliament in May. The Commission is due to vote on it in September, and the regulation could then come into force before the year is out and be applied six months afterwards.