Health claims amendment could boost innovation

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

The European Commission is to look again at article 18 health
claims, which currently mean any claim supported by new scientific
research will have to wait at least two years before they can be

As it stands, the commission has said article 18 claims can only be submitted once the positive list of accepted claims (article 13) has been drawn up at the beginning of 2010. This article 18 wait could stifle industry innovation and means that without an amendment, companies would have little chance of cashing in on their investment as they would have to wait some two years before they can market the product with a claim. Secretary-general for the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA) Patrick Coppens said: "The problem is that the Commission interpretation of the legislation means they will not look at article 18 claims until after article 13. Industry would have to wait until 2010. "In the meantime claims which are very similar may well be added to the article 13 list, which would mean companies would not get a return on innovation." ​ ERNA and the Confederation of Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA) have both fought hard for an amendment and have even called in lawyers to examine the legislation. The groups were told that the Commission may not have the right legal interpretation. Coppens added: "The Commission has indicated that it will look at the interpretation again and will consider another interpretation than before, where they would allow article 18 claims in February next year." ​ February would be after the deadline for general (article 13) claims to be passed on from Member States to the European Food Safety Authority for assessment. "It is clear the Commission does want to hamper innovation. The legislation was designed to protect innovation, but then of course everything will depend how that legislation is interpreted,"​ said Coppens. A Commission spokesperson was unavailable for comment prior to publication.​ The nutrition and health claims regulation (1924/2006), which came into force in Europe from 1 July 2007, means any food product claiming to have a health or nutritional benefit must meet a list of European Commission approved wording. The regulation is split into several sections. Article 18 covers newly developed evidence and which include a request for proprietary data protection. It was included by the Commission to help innovation, as claims submitted through the article 13 list can be used by any company. Article 13 covers any food claims relating to a role of a nutrient, must be "based on generally accepted scientific evidence​" and be "well understood by the average consumer​." This covers claims which are already being used, and are first sent to the relevant regulator in each member state before being passed to EFSA, which has two years to make sure the scientific evidence is valid. Article 14 covers claims aimed at children's development and health.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy, Suppliers

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