Mutual recognition to benefit herbal players

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union European food safety authority

A workshop hosted by the European Botanical Forum has highlighted European Union mutual recognition principles that are due to become law in May, 2009, as a way to benefit the herbal sector.

Industry met with academics and regulators at the event in Brussels to discuss “the future of botanical food supplements”.

Health claims were discussed along with safety and quality control issues. The borderline between food and medicinal products was also on the agenda.

“It was impressive to have such a good turnout of speakers and participants at this event,”​ said Manfred Ruthsatz, EBF chairman.

“A number of issues that remain in desperate need of clarification and discussion were put on the table, not least, the distinction between food and medicinal products, and the new mutual recognition regulation, which we urge manufacturers to begin actively applying when it comes into force.”

EBF said the meeting was attended by officials and academics from Belgium, France, Italy, UK, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, EFSA and the European Commission.

EBF secretary general Patrick Coppens, who spoke at the event, said: “The meeting highlighted a number of issues, not least the concern that with EFSA applying pharmaceutical-type criteria for claims evaluations it is not considering the specificities of botanicals used in food supplements. These comprise the complexity to characterise botanicals which often have a long-standing traditional usage and other evidence of efficacy.”

Other speakers included European Commission official Idaira Robayna-Alfonso, who highlighted the new mutual recognition Regulation; Penny Viner of the UK Herbal Forum, who gave an overview of the challenges for companies implementing the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Product Directive (THMPD); the European Food Safety Authority’s Bernard Botte, who spoke about EFSA’s work in relation to the safety of botanicals and explained the work EFSA is undertaking in relation to claims; David Richardson who elaborated on the sources and kinds of evidence that can be used to justify claims and Jean Savigny, from law firm Keller and Heckmann, who identified a number of legal considerations in relation to the THMPD.

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