EFSA health claim opinion

EFSA issues positive iodine and iron health claim opinions

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Iodine deficiency, Nda

Iodine and iron have both been shown to benefit children’s development by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientists under article 14 of the European Union nutrition and health claims regulation.

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) found that iron could help with cognitive development and iodine could assist the growth of children after scrutinising two dossiers submitted by the Association de la Transformation Laitière Française.

Iron and children’s cognitive development

The NDA approved a claim aimed at 3-18 year-olds stating: “Iron contributes to normal cognitive development of children”. ​This compared with the Association de la Transformation Laitière Française’s proposed claim that read: “Iron is necessary for the cognitive development of children”

The NDA said it backed the claim because there was, “sufficient evidence from reviews, consensus opinions and from reports from authoritative bodies demonstrating the role of iron in the cognitive development of children.”

Iron deficiency has been linked to deficits in attention, perceptual motor speed, memory and verbal fluency. Endpoints studied included psychomotor development, cognition, mental development, intelligence quotient and school performance.

The dossier included reference to 12 human studies and 37 other publications deemed pertinent to the claim.

There may be iron deficiencies in some EU countries, the NDA observed.

The iron opinion can be found here​.

Iodine and children’s growth

For iodine, the NDA noted that iodine deficiency was common in most countries and that iodine intake among children and adolescents may be deficient in some European countries.

As with the iron claim, the ‘necessary’ aspect of the proposed statement was substituted for ‘contributes to’ by the Panel. The claim also related to children and adolescents aged 3-18 years.

Seventeen human trials and 31 other trials were submitted by the applicant. These included eight randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in humans, four non-controlled human trials, four observational studies and a Cochrane systematic review on iodine supplementation for preventing iodine deficiency disorders.

Iodine is associated with proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which is associated with a number of physical functions including protein and enzyme synthesis and nitrogen retention.

Products that want to bear the claim have to contain 15 per cent of the recommended daily allowance as established in the EU labelling directive.

EU Tolerable Upper Intake Levels are: 600μg/day in adults and during pregnancy and lactation; 200μg/day for 1-3 years; 250μg/day for 4-6 years, 300ug/day for 7-10 years; 450μg/day for 11-14 years and 500μg/day for 15-17 years.

The iodine opinion can be found here​.

Health claims are the subject of the NutraIngredients Health Claims​ 2010​ conference to be held in Brussels on 10th December where Provexis, Danone, Unilever, Cantox, academics, industry groups, lawyers and market experts will discuss the regulation. For more information and to register, please click here ​.

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