EFSA opinion prompts Finland to reassess Valio health claim

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Atherosclerosis

The Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) will investigate an “arterial elasticity” health claim being made by Finnish dairy, Valio, about a peptide- and plant sterol-bearing dairy/juice drink after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) turned down a similar claim last week.

The major claim Valio makes for the product in question, Evolus, regards cholesterol lowering and blood pressure control, but it also employs a claim relating to improved arterial elasticity on some of its marketing materials.

EFSA last week issued a negative opinion to Valio’s article 14 “arterial stiffness” ​claim, stating causality had not been demonstrated despite a Valio submission that included nine human intervention trials.

Deeper assessment

But Evira told NutraIngredients.com this morning that EFSA’s opinion had prompted it begin a “deeper assessment”​ of Valio’s elasticity claim.

Evira senior officer, Sari Sippola, said a request was being sent to Valio for an explanation of the scientific evidence behind the claim”.

An Evira working group would be formed to complete a fresh scientific assessment of the claim’s merits, a process that may take several months.

Sippola said, to her knowledge, Evolus was the only product in Finland making such claims.

“While the claims (elasticity versus stiffness) are not exactly the same, they are similar. The EFSA opinion does have an effect on this claim,”​ she said.

Valio nutrition manager, Tuula Tuure, told NutraIngredients.com the EFSA opinion would not affect its marketing strategy as the claims were sufficiently different.

At the time of the product’s September launch, Valio stated of Evolus: Lower cholesterol and blood pressure maintain blood vessel elasticity while high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and stiffening blood vessels are all considered cardiovascular disease risk factors.”

It goes on to add: “A daily dose sufficient to affect blood pressure and cholesterol can be obtained from two glasses of fermented milk (3 dl), two cups of yoghurt or one bottle of daily dose drink, and contains 2 grams of plant sterols and 4.2 mg of peptides.”

The EC is due to issue a list of approved article 14 (children’s and disease reduction claims) and article 13 (more generic claims) from the 2800-odd claims currently being assessed by EFSA. EFSA opinions are taken into consideration by the EC but are not binding.

EFSA has so far issued 17 claim opinions – four of which have been positive – and some of which the EC is expected to pass final opinion on in the coming months – before its January, 2010 deadline.

Dossiers from the likes of Unilever, Bio Serae Laboratoires and Martek have been rejected so far.

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