Others on the list include rejections for a host of probiotic strains and immune-gut health; green tea and cardiovascular health; cranberry and urinary tract infections; GLA and inflammation; antioxidants and anti-ageing; astaxanthin and skin health and pomegranate and cholesterol reduction.
ANH-I scientific and managing director, Dr Robert Verkerk, told NutraIngredients.com the missive had been sent to all Members of the European Parliament, where increasing numbers were becoming aware of mass EFSA health claim rejections, and expressing opposition to many of them.
“MEPs are waking up to the scale of the problem, the scale of the rejections, and so they want to know more about the processes and that is why we have produced this list,” he said.
He called on members of the public to write to their MEPs to halt a development that would, “lead to a situation where a consumer wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in healthiness between a bottle of juice and cordial.”
There are about 2700, general function (article 13) claim opinions currently being scrutinised by the European Commission and representatives of the EU’s 27 member states – around of 80% of which are rejections. But member states have also expressed reservations about some of the positive opinions in regard to overall consumption levels, and whether disclaimers need to be attached to certain positive claims.
The EC has said it expects to see all Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) opinions translated into EU law books under the nutrition and health claim regulation (NHCR) in the first quarter of 2012.
Back to the drawing board
In a statement issued today, Dr Verkerk said: “Centralised control of health claims by these European authorities is going to prevent consumers from being able to discern healthy foods from less healthy ones.”
“EFSA is not prepared to accept that antioxidant-rich fruit and veg like berry fruits, broccoli or pomegranate have health benefits; it sees nothing healthy about green tea; and it is woefully out of touch by not recognising the seminal importance of probiotics and prebiotics in managing immune health.”
“EFSA needs to go back to the drawing board before it finds itself responsible for starving the European population of crucial information needed to make healthy and appropriate food choices.”
He added: “At a time when chronic diseases are crippling healthcare systems around Europe, what we need is individuals taking responsibility for their health — and this requires information being given to them, not taken away.”
“EFSA has to realise that its scientific methods — built on reductionism principles and controversial definitions of causality — cannot be used to evaluate the hugely complex interactions humans have with their food. Given the extraordinary rate of rejection of claims for foods and food ingredients that are known to benefit health in the real world, alarm bells should be ringing in the corridors of EFSA. It is now for consumers and MEPs to wake EFSA up to the shortcomings of its approach and find a new way forward”.