The product in question was a Kinder milk chocolate filled with anhydrous milk filling and delivering 40mg of calcium (five per cent of RDA) per serving as well as a 70-calorie payload (7 per cent RDA).
Gruppo Ferrero said the chocolate was designed to be eaten between meals and targeted children from age four up until the age of 21, but EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) threw the claim out after performing a scientific assessment.
The proposed claim stated: “Kinder Chocolate, the chocolate that helps to grow.”
Gruppo Ferrero added that “eating between meals can be helpful in meeting calorie and nutrient requirements, especially for some groups of population, such as children”.
It submitted 39 publications including 13 human intervention studies, 12 human observational studies and 14 review articles.
The NDA said the data highlighted “abdominal symptoms of milk consumption in lactose intolerant subjects, on calcium absorption and calcium balance in lactose intolerant subjects, on ghrelin secretion, energy balance and regulation of food intake, and the interaction of magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C on calcium absorption and balance.”
But given the subjects in most of the studies were adults, they were deemed to be of limited relevance for the claimed effect in the target population of the claim.
Two unpublished intervention studies in young adults (24-30 years-old) that focused on glucose metabolism, ghrelin levels, plasma lipid profile, inflammatory markers, blood pressure, body weight, body mass index and waist circumference, were also deemed outside the target population.
The biomarkers/endpoints were deemed not directly related to growth.
The NDA therefore concluded: “The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of Kinder Chocolate and the claimed effect of “helps to grow” in children and young adults.”
The European Union is attempting to formulate a centralised list under the nutrition and health claims regulation that is due for completion in January, 2010. It has about 300 article 14 claims to process in addition to about 4000 article 13 claims.
The NDA’s opinion on the Kinder claim can be read here .