The first batch of 94 opinions published today by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provide scientific advice on 523 health claims relating to over 200 foods and food components.
Although this batch is not representative of the totality of the generic health claim opinions, it provides an indication of what to expect. Around 66 per cent of these article 13.1 opinions were negative, compared to 80 per cent negative opinions given on the 70 article 13.5 and 14 health claim dossiers assessed to date.
What’s behind a yes?
The more generic claim opinions issued today relate to food components such as vitamins and minerals, dietary fibres, probiotics and botanical substances.
Professor Albert Flynn, chair of EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) told NutraIngredients.com that the positive opinions were granted to those substances with clear identification and well established supporting science.
These related mainly to functions of vitamins and minerals, and also included dietary fibres, and fatty acids for maintenance of cholesterol levels, and sugar-free chewing gum for maintenance of dental health.
Almost half of the evaluations with unfavourable outcomes were owing to a lack of information on the substance on which the claim is based, EFSA said. These include probiotics and botanical substances.
“Without clear identification of the substance in question, the Panel could not verify that the scientific evidence provided to EFSA related to the same substance for which the health benefits are claimed.”
This first batch of opinions relates to only around one quarter of the 4,185 claims on EFSA’s assessment list.
Professor Flynn said EFSA will continue to “progressively” evaluate the remaining claims, but could not provide a timeline for their publication.
EFSA’s opinions are passed on to the European Commission for final validation. They are then placed on a list of ‘permitted’ or ‘prohibited’ claims.