John Redman, vice chair of the UK Health Food Manufacturers’ Association and group managing director at Merck Consumer Healthcare UK, presented an industry perspective on the announcement at a European Health Claims Alliance event in Brussels yesterday.
Afterwards he explained why, despite the good news, there remained no room for complacency.
“I think it’s certainly to be welcomed that the Commission now acknowledges the problems that have been caused in the industry where the piecemeal adoption of EFSA’s opinions are going to cause market distortion,” he said.
He added: “It’s a pragmatic approach but the problem doesn’t go away. EFSA continues to work on tranches three and four…it may be that the threat of Commission action on these has gone away but they are still going to be put in public domain so the market distortion has not gone away.”
“Notwithstanding Monday’s exciting announcement, the regulation and the fundamentals of the regulation remain unchanged.”
For botanical products, Redman warned that the discrimination between medicinal herbal products and food supplements was vital, when their treatment is next considered by the Commission and member states.
But for now the result is a massive reduction in the claim dossiers to be assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
“Roughly 40 per cent of claims have now been removed from EFSA’s list of 4600 claims,” Redman observed. “That represents approximately 2000 claims that will now be addressed separately. I think the challenge for industry is to ensure that these continue to remain as botanicals sold as food supplements. The discussion therefore goes on at a different level to before.”