In a letter to Dutch probiotics supplier Winclove Bio Industries, Basil Mathioudakis, the European Commission’s head of Food Law, Nutrition and Labelling (DG Sanco), emphasised that only member states could withdraw claims under article 13.2 of the regulation.
With the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) health claims panel so far rejecting almost all of about 900 article 13.1 dossiers not based on essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, industry has began to postulate the idea that it would be better to remove from the system many of the remaining 3000+ dossiers that seem almost certain to be rejected.
In his letter to Winclove president Peter Pekelharing dated February 25, Mathioudakis wrote:
“…it is only Member States which may withdraw the submitted health claims from the lists and stakeholders should therefore engage the competent authorities of the Member States in which the claims were submitted for any issues in relation to the submitted national lists.”
“It should be noted that Member States agree that claims should only be withdrawn from the lists subject to the condition that an opinion on them has not been adopted by EFSA.”
These lists added up to about 44,000 when first submitted to the European Commission at which point they were trimmed down to about 4400 claims due mainly to repetition of claimed effects.
Mathioudakis’ statements were made in response to Winclove requesting to withdraw certain probiotic dossiers from the process. But Mathioudakis said EFSA had already published opinions on all but one of these dossiers, after which Dutch national authorities which had initially backed Winclove in asking for the claims to be withdrawn, “did not maintain their request for withdrawal”.
EFSA made a similar observation yesterday when Professor Albert Flynn, the chief of its health claims assessment panel told NutraIngredients.com in an exclusive podcast, that only member states could withdraw claims.
See NutraIngredients this week for more key insights from EFSA’s health claims chief.