Speaking at the NutraIngredients Health Claims 2010 conference in Brussels yesterday, Danone’s external communications director Patrick O’Quin said that firms that had submitted applications to make health claims on their products “dramatically” needed a clear timetable as the sheer number of applications had caused severe delays in the regulatory timetable.
“I am emphasising this point because only a clear regulatory framework will enable companies to prepare and anticipate, to adapt and finally to innovate and perform well.”
For example, he continued, the industry was still waiting for a clear position to be taken concerning the end of transition periods built into the health claims Regulation – leaving companies unsure as to when different elements of the legislation took effect. “And let’s not forget either that this Regulation also raises questions over nutrient profiles that have yet to be defined,” he added. “Institutions have not yet voiced their opinions on this issue, yet it is a cornerstone of the Regulation.”
Data protection was another area requiring clarification, he added. He said that companies were faced with a dilemma: how to reconcile the need for data protection with the need to prove the efficacy of their products. This was an open question that had not been fully addressed by the health claims Regulation, despite new elements within it that provided some protection for proprietary data, O’Quin argued.
Papers need to be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to confirm the quality of the research and ensure credibility, he accepted. “Nevertheless, some of the data contained in our applications are proprietary and must remain so: it’s essential to be able to preserve our own data and therefore our competitive advantage in terms of innovation.”
He concluded: “Data protection as well as uncertainty in the timetable, represent major issues: Companies now need to obtain from the EU institutions a clear timetable and to have a clear understanding of the measures they will take to implement the regulation.”