Dispatches from the NI Health Claims 2010 conference

Are health claims suppressing free speech?

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

US attorney Jonathan Emord draws parallels between his experiences in the US challenging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the current health claims situation in Europe on the basis of free speech.

Speaking at the NutraIngredients Health Claims 2010 conference in Brussels, Emord tells Stephen Daniells that a legal action to challenge the strict claims assessment process enshrined in the EU health claims regulation could be pursued on the grounds of free speech.

“I get the impression that people [in Europe] are dissatisfied,”​ said Emord. “I think there is the fear that the regulatory establishment will ostracise or punish a party that goes to court against it, and so there is this fear, well understood – I appreciate it from the American experience – that the regulatee doesn’t want to challenge the regulator.”

“But I think that when the food safety authority here, and the European Commission, and ultimately the European Parliament, make decisions that implement and enforce prohibitions on speech about the potential of substances to effect health and disease, that will invoke a negative response, and sooner or later I believe it is inevitable that there will be [legal] challenges,”​ added Emord.

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