Bad science? ANH presents MEPs with 30 dodgiest EFSA health claim decisions

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Major bombshell to bowel control: Prunes aren't beneficial, according to EFSA
Major bombshell to bowel control: Prunes aren't beneficial, according to EFSA

Related tags: Efsa health claim, European union, European food safety authority

The Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH-I) has mailed MEPs a litany of what it considers the 30 most ‘wayward’ health claim opinions to arise from the European Food Safety Authority’s Parma, Italy headquarters – with a prune-digestion rejection top of the pile.

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​”.

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3 comments

Do some proper research

Posted by Rexy,

While it is understandable that industry goes ballistic over the rejections of EFSA, since they are likely to see a decline in profits, it is not acceptable simply to reiterate that “we know that our products are beneficial to consumers”. Get off your butts and do some proper research, published in peer-reviewed journals, to test your claims.

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Drug Co. Push to Control

Posted by William Bowers,

So, what is new.For years the major drug company's sales have been affected by consumers understanding, they can improve their health through eating better and supplementing.These studies have been skewed for years,using artificial forms of vitamins to prove their point.
They never once point out the millions of people that have been helped by adding whole food forms of
supplementation.Whatever happened to SCURVY???

Let us not be fooled by phony and incomplete studies.

Thank you for giving us this information.

William J. Bowers

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Another example of the failings of the EFSA

Posted by jb,

The EFSA is short sighted and applies money science not good independent science. A science for the protection and care of the ordinary person. For this reason it now needs to be disbandied as it fails in its core duty to protect the consumer. It has been shown time and time again in its failings. We don't want an organisation like this anymore. Please bring in more independent scientific organisations and we need people like the ANH to fight for our protection against these corporate lobbies like the EFSA.

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