EFSA health claim opinion

Soy industry seeks EC dialogue after EFSA rejection

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soy protein, Nutrition

Soy protein claims have failed to impress EFSA's health claims panel
Soy protein claims have failed to impress EFSA's health claims panel
Soy industry groups say they are actively lobbying the European Commission for dialogue after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) last week rejected a raft of soy-related health claims.

Jean Kremer, the secretary general of the European Vegetable Protein Federation (EUVEPRO), told NutraIngredients his group and others in the soy industry had located inconsistencies in the latest opinions from EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) which it wanted to share with the EC.

“EFSA have accepted the definition for vegetable protein,” ​he said, “but when they undertake the review they use another definition. The definition of soy protein​ they use does not exist in nature and we think there is a problem with that. So we are seeking dialogue with the EC to explain this point of view.”

“We remain confident.”

Kremer said the negative opinion for the article 13.1 dossier was not unexpected after EFSA​ in August rejected an article 14 soy protein-cholesterol lowering health, disease reduction claim containing similar data.

In its latest opinion, the NDA concludes that soy protein does not help maintain or achieve normal body weight; does not benefit blood cholesterol levels and does not protect DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage.

EUVEPRO will be joined in its lobbying efforts by the European Natural Soyfoods Manufacturers Association (ENSA) and the UK Soy Protein Association (SPA), which united on the article 14 submission, that saw the NDA​ dismiss 18 studies due to its tight definition of what constitutes soy protein.

In regard to the definition of soy protein it employed the NDA said:

“Food products containing soy protein usually also contain variable amounts and types of phenolic compounds, such as isoflavones, and variable amounts of fatty acids and fibre, which could contribute to the claimed effects. Neither the food constituent nor the conditions of use for these claims provide consistent specifications regarding other components in soy besides protein. Therefore, this evaluation will apply to the protein component in soy.”

Soy protein debate

In response, the three groups have said they would consider a resubmission with a reworded claim that may state something like, “soy protein containing naturally occurring isoflavones”​rather than soy protein alone.

If such a claim had the effect of reigniting the NDA’s interest in the dismissed studies, they noted the baseline shift in LDL cholesterol reduction was 5.5 per cent on average in that body of work.

They concluded that the NDA had not examined the totality of evidence.

Soy-cholesterol lowering claims are approved in Japan, the US, the UK, South Africa, the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Turkey.

The article 13.1 opinion on soy protein can be found here.

The August article 14 opinion can be found here.

These matters and more will be discussed at the second NutraIngredients Health Claims 2010 conference to be held in Brussels on December 1. The conference will deconstruct the latest article 13.1 claim opinions, hear first-hand experience from players like Kellogg’s, outline regulation-coping marketing strategies, and feature comparison with the US claims system from leading industry figure, Dr Andrew Shao.

For more details click here.

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