Further glucosamine health claim rejected

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Chondroitin sulfate, Osteoarthritis, European food safety authority

No causality has been established between glucosamine hydrochloride and a reduced rate of cartilage degeneration in individuals without osteoarthritis, according to an opinion published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on an Article 14 health claim.

Dr Keramat Jokar, R& D manager at Dr Hittich, the Netherlands based supplements manufacturer that submitted the application, said that the company was extremely disappointed with the judgement of the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA).

Furthermore, he said that the company anticipated a fall off in product sales as a result.

“We had invested quite heavily in this submission, in terms of effort and financial outlay. While the chances of an appeal are limited, we will consult with our legal team to see what action we can take going forward,”​ he told NutraIngredients.com.

Limited evidence

In the opinion, the NDA said that no studies has been provided by the applicant on the effect of glucosamine on cartilage degeneration in individuals without osteoarthritis.

Moreover, said the panel, there was a lack of evidence that patients with osteoarthritis were representative of the target population and also a lack of evidence that the in vitro ​study included could predict an effect on cartilage degeneration in humans.

Feedback facility

Claims under Article 14 of the EC Regulation on nutrition and health claims refer to the reduction of disease risk or to children's development or health.

And, according to EFSA, companies have three months in which to submit comments to the European Commission following the publication of an opinion from the NDA panel.

Remit adherence

Meanwhile, pan-European better nutrition advocate, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), says the EU health claims system is going way beyond its remit to protect consumer interests and curtailing freedom of speech.

The ANH statement followed the October 1 publication of about 500 health claim opinions by EFSA which stunned industry with a 70 per cent failure rate.

Not a single botanical or probiotic claim drew a positive opinion, a situation that has industry groups reeling, so much so that none of the major bodies has yet produced an official response while they process the fall-out.
The ANH statement, headed by its executive and scientific director, Dr Robert Verkerk, said the time had come for a call-to-action.

“I don’t believe the food and supplement industry, or scientists, can accept a good number of these opinions lying down,”​ he said. “It is time to begin deep and meaningful scientifically-based negotiations.”

Industry gagging

The ANH said the scientific stance being taken by EFSA added up to a gagging of free speech, one that could become a commercial reality by the middle of next year for at least some products.

“The Regulation is designed to protect the interests of consumers. It's meant to stop them being fed a diet of misleading misinformation,”​ he said.

“While it cannot be denied the food and supplement industry has entertained its fair share of cowboys, our concern is that the regulation goes so far as to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

At the very point in time when consumers need most information to help them make the right food and supplement choices to help them offset largely preventable chronic diseases, we see the industry being gagged.”

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