EFSA defends independence against ‘toxic toothpaste’ attack

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, European union

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has responded to criticism from a pan-European trade group that its opinions are being influenced by political forces by highlighting its “transparency and independence”.

EFSA dismissed Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) comments published Monday on NutraIngredients.com that accused it of being “more about political number shuffling than proper science”. ​ANH also accused the risk assessor of being “irresponsible”.

Risk assessment role

“Transparency and independence are two of EFSA’s guiding principles and we would strongly reject any suggestion that EFSA’s opinions are influenced by anything other than the scientific evidence and the expertise of the independent scientists undertaking the risk assessment,”​an EFSA spokesman told NutraIngredients.com in an email.

The ANH criticism came on the back of an EFSA opinion on the nutrient sodium monofluorophosphate published in November. EFSA gave a positive opinion on this nutrient for use in food supplements, which ANH took umbrage with as it viewed the chemical as “toxic toothpaste”.

The spokesperson sought to clarify that EFSA does not authorise the use of nutrients on-market, it merely provided scientific advice to the European Commission and the 27 European Union Member States – “the risk management bodies that take appropriate decisions”.

“In this particular case, any questions or comments relating to authorisation should be addressed to the EC,”​ the spokesperson said.

To read ANH’s comments published on this site on Monday, click here​.

Of the particular sodium monofluorophosphate opinion, the EFSA spokesperson observed, by way of clarification: “The opinion to which you refer was an evaluation of the safety of sodium monofluorophosphate added for nutritional purposes as a source of fluoride in food supplements and on bioavailability of fluoride from this source. The safety of fluoride itself was outside the remit of the Panel.”

EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources (ANS) surmised in its sodium monofluorophosphate opinion: “The use of sodium monofluorophosphate as a food supplement would be of no safety concern provided that fluoride tolerable upper intake levels established in Europe are not exceeded by the combined exposure from food supplements and the diet.”

The ANH has campaigned for better food law and science for the best part of this decade. Its provocative missives and stance on issues such as maximum permitted levels (MPLs) of nutrients in food supplements in the European Union, draws a mixed reaction from industry.

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