EFSA: Health claims summit ‘very successful’

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, Nutrition

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says the detailed guidance it gave to industry at Monday’s technical health claims meeting will ensure “shared, mutual understanding” in the health claims evaluation process.

With many attendees responding positively to the day’s events, EFSA highlighted the day had met its objective of providing industry with practical information about how EFSA has and will work on health claim dossiers.

“This has been a very successful public consultation on EFSA’s evaluation of health claims,”​ said professor Albert Flynn, chairman of EFSA’s Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA).

“Our discussions with industry on guidance and new communications procedures will help applicants for the authorisation of claims and will also benefit the overall efficiency of EFSA’s evaluation process.”

The scientific agency is committing to more open communications with health claim applicants and so certain procedures have been amended to facilitate this.

One of these is ‘stop-the-clock’ which extends claim processing deadlines when, “NDA experts consider it necessary to request additional information regarding an application.”

“This will help ensure that there is a shared, mutual understanding between the panel and the applicant of the claim to be evaluated prior to adoption of the final opinion,”​ EFSA said.

“The NDA Panel may request supplementary information from applicants to clarify in particular the object of the claim (e.g. whether it relates to a component of the foodstuff or the product itself) or the claimed health relationship.”“Up to now, these issues would be addressed with applicants only before the application was accepted by EFSA and before evaluation started. Experience has shown that some of these questions only become apparent during the assessment of the application and this can have a significant bearing on the evaluation.”​ Comments from the meeting, as well as those made in response to a Q&A published by EFSA last month, would be compiled to create a new Q&A on the three-year-old nutrition and health claims regulation.

“This is a living document which will be updated regularly in the light of experience gained,”​ EFSA said. An overview of comments received during the consultation and a report of the technical meeting will be published in Autumn.

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