EFSA says yes to calcium, no to omega-3s and probiotics

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, Nutrition, Vitamin d

The latest batch of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinions has surfaced with the assessor giving the thumbs up to three claims revolving around calcium, vitamin D and bone health.

But three claims relating omega-3 consumption and children’s health were handed negative opinions, as was a claim submitted by Finnish dairy group, Valio, linking a dairy peptide-containing, low-fat milk and juice drink with “arterial stiffness”.

“We are not surprised,”​ Valio nutrition manager, Tuula Tuure, PhD told NutraIngredients.com. “We were not sure it would be accepted but wanted to submit and see what EFSA said. We accept the logic of the opinion and are working on gathering further evidence to support the claim.”

Another claim for a probiotic and fruit extract combination supplement submitted by enzyme.pro.ag and purporting to contribute to cognitive and mental development in children was also rejected by EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA).

All of the claims were drawn from article 14 of the health and nutrition claims regulation which relate to children’s health and disease reduction.

Calcium and vitamin D

The calcium and vitamin D opinions may seem ‘a given’ for EFSA given the wealth of backing for the nutrients' benefit to bone health, but the verdicts will come as a relief to those who feared EFSA’s literal interpretation of the idea of ‘causality’ would put the kybosh on almost all health claims.

EFSA produced positive opinions on two bone growth claims among children and adolescents submitted by the Association de la Transformation Laitière Française – one for calcium and one for vitamin D.

The vitamin D claim relating to bone growth in 3-18 year-olds was supported by 19 publications including 10 human trials and nine reports from “authoritative bodies”. ​EFSA said the evidence backed a claim stating: “Vitamin D is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children”.

The calcium claim was backed by 31 publications including 18 randomised controlled trials with EFSA agreeing on a similar claim wording.

A combined vitamin C and calcium claim submitted by Yoplait Dairy Crest Limited and backed by 16 publications was also viewed favourably by the NDA panel.

Omega-3 claims submitted by Pharma Consulting & Industries, relating to eye health, “calming”​ and “serenity”​ were not accepted by NDA for failing to demonstrate causality.

Arterial stiffness

Valio’s claim stated that its product, Evolus, could reduce arterial stiffness in mildly hypertensive subjects and therefore also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Valio submitted 13 pieces of evidence supporting its claim – nine human intervention studies and four meta-analyses. Four of the studies specifically related to Evolus.

The NDA rejected all but two of the publications on grounds of irrelevance but also found “weaknesses” ​in two human intervention trials such as the lack of an official measure of arterial stiffness, and a failure to demonstrate significant differences between control and study groups.

Tuure said the opinion was not damaging to Valio as the company was not currently employing the claim.

“The submission was more experimental but we have others with EFSA we are more confident about,”​ she said.

It is expected the Commission will deliver decisions on some of EFSA’s opinions by year’s end. EFSA has about 210 article 14 claims and 2500 article 13 claims to be assessed by January 31, 2010.

To see the opinions click here​.

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