€6m EU herb food science project boosts tradition-of-use data

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

€6m EU herb food science project boosts tradition-of-use data

Related tags Food science European union

PlantLibra, a €6m European Union-backed project that investigating the complex area of botanical nutrition science has convened a meeting in Brussels, where regulators from 19 EU countries were educated about plant science and the project’s aims.

The four-year project has various aims including developing a plant food science database for access by EU regulators and others, as well work into intake levels for various herbs and establishing risk-benefit models.

Project manager Luca Bucchini told this publication the Brussels congress, held in late September and also attended by US and Chinese regulators, had been a vital exchange where regulators had gained insights into PlantLibra’s aims for the first time in many cases.

“It was very successful in sharing our work with policy makers,” ​he said. “They were very impressed with the database we are building.”

That database compiles many kinds of plant food scientific data including history-of-use data that has proved somewhat controversial in terms of hot is has been received under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).

While resolving the status of tradition-of-use data in European food science law, is not a specific goal of PlantLibra, the work may assist agencies like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) when it is finally directed by the European Commission as to how it should treat the science backing botanicals –expected by the end of 2012.

Previously little value was attached to history-of-use botanical data by EFSA, but the EC is in the process of rethinking that position.


Italian researchers are this week calling for a similar rethink about tradition-of-use science in relation to the NHCR at the NUCE International event in Milan, Italy.

“What we need to do is look at what ‘tradition-of-use data can give us in terms of this regulation,”​ said Professor Mauro Serafini, from the Università degli Studi di Roma.

“We know that the data for plants is not as clear as for medicines but that does not mean that this kind of data should be dismissed completely. Tradition-of-use botanical information must be considered. To ignore it completely and just employ the kind of system that favours vitamins and minerals would be totally inappropriate.”

More details about PlantLibra can be found here​.

For more about NUCE click here​.

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