NDA panellist: Angry academics would come to same conclusions if on our panel

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Efsa health claims Nutrition European food safety authority

NDA panellist: Angry academics would come to same conclusions if on our panel
As the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) delivers hundreds of batch five general function health claim rejections to an ever-frustrated academic and commercial community, EFSA health claims panelist Ambroise Martin, PhD, tells NutraIngredients why disgruntled researchers would come to the same conclusions as EFSA’s health claims panel, if put in the same position. It’s all about context you see…

The Professor in Nutrition and Biochemistry at the Medical school at the University of Lyon, who formerly advised the French Food Agency (ANSES) that approved both lutein-eye and cranberry-UTI claims, said the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) was the culprit behind the ever-widening, researcher-NDA panel divide.

“A good researcher is not by the way a good expert and reciprocally a good expert is not necessarily the best researcher in the field,”​ professor Martin said. “It’s quite a different thing.”

“In research you have to address questions on your own, when you are an expert you have to answer a question that is posed by somebody else and you have to answer in a specific context and for the health claims it is the context of the regulation and you cannot ignore this context.”

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Addressing criticism

Posted by Roel Leerling,

Professor Martin is absolutely right. It’s all a matter of context. And it’s the political context that has to be criticized, not the panellists or researchers. The political decision to install EFSA is based on an overestimation of the possibilities of actual nutritional and medical sciences to answer questions re clinical efficacy of nutraceutical interventions in the same way as is applied re drugs. Evidence Based Nutrition is not the same as Evidence Based Medicine, and to be able to judge the scientific evidence of nutritional products actual science is still inadequate. The only thing panellists can be reproached for is that they accepted an impracticable commission from politicians.

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Expert understanding

Posted by Susan McGinty,

Since the NHCR is supposed to be about the context of the consumer, perhaps it is a consumer panel that should judge the evidence, with scientists to answer questions, so that they (consumers) can determine if they would be misled by it. That approach would meet the letter of the regulation Article 6 (1) which states that the data must be accepted -- it does not refer to the interpretation of that data by experts. Also a consumer panel determination would cover the 'understood by the average consumer' point as well.

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