EFSA health claim opinion

EFSA approves vitamin B1-infant brain health claim

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

HiPPy times for one German company (and potentially others) as EFSA's health claims panel approves an article 14 thiamin claim for neural development in under-3s
HiPPy times for one German company (and potentially others) as EFSA's health claims panel approves an article 14 thiamin claim for neural development in under-3s
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved a health claim linking thiamin (vitamin B1) and “normal neurological development and function” in infants and children up to three years of age.

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) backed German firm HiPP’s article 14 claim as it affirmed that thiamin deficiency, like deficiencies in other essential nutrients, could cause, mental changes, such as apathy, decrease in short-term memory, confusion and irritability as well as polyneuritis and paralysis of the peripheral nerves.”

“Manifestations are seen in the autonomic, the sensory and the motor systems,”​ the NDA wrote in its opinion.

It also affirmed an article 13.1 opinion​ issued in 2010 that found in favour of thiamin’s importance to “normal psychological functions”​ for all population groups, although it rejected tiredness and fatigue claims.

HiPP’s thiamin green light

For HiPP’s under-3s specific opinion, which relates to its follow-on infant formulas and foods, the NDA noted that any approved claims should take into account the strict EU marketing rules for infant formula, follow-on formula, infant medical foods and cereal-based foods for infants and young children.

To bear claims, other foods intended for infants and young children had to provide 15 per cent of nutrient reference values (100 μg/100 kcal) as set out in the cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children Directive of 2006.

HiPP, which specialises in infant and children’s foods, sent a dossier that contained two human intervention studies, seven observational studies, three reviews and one medical position paper on the composition of infant formulae.

Four opinions of authoritative/scientific bodies and five textbook chapters were also submitted. But the opinion went into no detail about the content of those submissions.

It can be found here.

EFSA issued another article 13.1 opinion in 2009 where it found thiamin intake necessary for, normal energy-yielding metabolism, normal cardiac function, and normal function of the nervous system” ​but that there was no evidence to support EU-wide deficiencies of the nutrient.

It also rejected thiamin-based claims for bone, teeth, hair, nails, and skin claims for want of evidence.

That opinion can be found here.

Omega-3 infant claims

HiPP was cautioned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA​) in October last year for making omega-3 claims on follow-on formula products before such claims had made it into EU law books, even though they had received positive NDA opinions.

The ASA found that since such claim was not authorised in the UK before January 19, 2007 (when the EU nutrition and health claim regulation became active), it could not therefore gain transitional status until any EFSA opinion became EU law.

In addition, the ASA found the EFSA opinion HiPP Organic referenced, along with other supportive data, was for formulations that were sufficiently different to HiPP’s own, and therefore not directly supportive.

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