Members of Parliament sitting on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee have lodged an official objection to the proposal for the list containing 222 approvals and about 2000 rejections to be passed into EU law. According to non-governmental organisation, the Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH), campaigning against the proposed register can now move to the next stage.
The move by MEPs comes after the director general of the ECs Health and Consumer Health Directorate, Paola Testori Coggi, presented the health claims register to the committee.
Coggi presented facts about the registers construction and highlighted the fact that many claim applications were yet to be decided – including many for botanicals and probiotics – as she attempted to allay concerns held by some MEPs that the scientific approach adopted by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) was not proportionate and delivered a distorted set of health claim opinions.
Robert Verkerk PhD, executive & scientific director for the ANH said the move was ‘wonderful news’ for the thousands of industry members and individuals who have contacted MEPs over concerns about the health claims list.
One major concern of many who back the campaign to veto the regulations is the perception - held by many MEPs - that the best course of action should be to cement the list in law, so that there is 'something to work with'.
Verkerk said that whilst it is true that more health claims can be added to the approved list after it becomes law, the amount of evidence required by EFSA means that only large corporations can afford the cost – meaning smaller specialist manufacturers of health foods and ingredients would be set to lose out.
"The proposed regime will leave a lot of the healthiest foods and food ingredients without claims, which will be a great disservice to the public and to disease prevention through dietary means," he argued.
"It's also crucial to recognise that most of the rejected health claims actually have plenty of scientific and clinical evidence backing them up. It's just not the very specific type of evidence that EFSA is demanding," added Verkerk.
Last week the anti-NHCR group issued a campaign pack to all 736 MEPs and ‘EU citizens’, which highlighted its concerns that the regulations unfairly prejudice small to medium companies.
The group called on MEPs to veto the register, arguing that “mandating some claims, while delaying decisions on others, creates a highly disproportionate situation with consumers and smaller businesses being the biggest losers given the inevitable confusion that will ensue.”
The ENVI Committee have since lodged an official objection to the proposal, something Verkerk said was “only stage one of the veto campaign,” adding that the next steps will be a vote on the regulations by the ENVI Committee and wider EU Parliament.