EFSA attacked for lack of transparency

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Efsa European food safety authority

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) has continued its assault on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) with a litany of criticisms and questions in an open letter to the assessor’s executive director, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle.

ANH, which lobbies for better food laws in Europe, said EFSA failed to demonstrate transparency in its methods, was dismissive of criticism and in denial about “substantive scientific or legal issues”.

The open letter was sent to EFSA on February 3 and was prompted, ANH said, by EFSA’s response (published here​) to previous ANH criticism of the manner in which the Parma-based assessor had conducted a review of a fluoride source.

“We hope that such transparent debate of the science will contribute to improving many people’s confidence in the risk analyses being carried out at present by EFSA,”​ wrote the ANH’s executive and scientific director, Dr Robert Verkerk, along with its medical director, Dr Damien Downing.

“Transparent debate will, we believe, ultimately benefit all parties, including EFSA itself. However, even more importantly, it will ensure that consumers are not exposed to unnecessary risks, whilst also ensuring that there is a lesser risk of unjustified restriction of their freedom to choose safe and efficacious products.”

Verkerk and Downing said they had written the open letter because ANH had not received “any response from EFSA on substantive issues raised by the ANH in past consultations.”

Sodium monofluorophosphate

“We make this request on behalf of a wide range of interested parties including consumers, health professionals, retailers and manufacturers of natural products,”​ they went on, before listing major areas of concern they believe EFSA should address, particularly in regard to the sodium monofluorophosphate opinion arrived at by EFSA in November last year.

These included:

· Why EFSA was delivering an opinion on a chemical such as sodium monofluorophosphate when its “apparent intended use is clearly medicinal, i.e., for reducing the risk of dental caries?If the intention is not medicinal, what is the nutritional and non-medicinal purpose of sodium monofluorophosphate’s proposed inclusion in food supplements?”

· Discrepancies between adult and children’s Tolerable Upper Intake (TUI) for sodium monofluorophosphate and why the opinion is positive when levels are demonstrated above TUI levels.

· Affect of fluoride exposure on the population from municipal water supplies in the states where this practice continues such as the UK and Ireland.

ANH wondered how an opinion could deal with the safety of sodium monofluorophosphate, but not fluoride itself, of which it said there were known adverse effects that had been observed by EFSA’s forerunner, the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), as far back as 1996.

An EFSA spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com the agency would “respond to the Alliance in due course”.

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