HFMA: “The Commission has turned its back on our industry and its legitimate concerns”

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

HFMA: “The Commission has turned its back on our industry and its legitimate concerns”

Related tags: Health claims, European parliament, European commission

The UK food supplements and healthy foods industry is backing a motion among some European Parliamentarians to veto the article 13 health claims register containing 2000 rejections that could be law in three months.

With its cause and campaign to modify the treatment of nutrition science under the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) failing to register with the European Commission over many years, the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA), like many other industry groups, is turning to MEPs to salvage a little “common sense”.

HFMA executive director Graham Keen said a complaint that sat with the European Ombudsman should be aired before any legislative decision was taken on the register that contains about 2000 rejections and 222 approvals from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“The Commission has turned its back on our industry and its legitimate concerns, so we have to hope that our parliamentary representatives in Europe can turn this situation around,”​ Keen said.

“We also feel that it is entirely appropriate that the Commission should await the outcome of the Ombudsman complaint of maladministration of the Regulation by the Commission, which was deemed to be acceptable for further investigation.”

“Voice of reason and common sense”

Of the mooted veto he added: "We wholeheartedly welcome this initiative taken by these MEPs. We have suggested for some time that we need MEPs to be the voice of reason and common sense in order to correct the situation regarding health claims, where we are confronted with the immediate prospect of a vast number of claims we have known and used for many years, sometimes decades, being totally prohibited from use on all forms of consumer communication as early as late Autumn this year.”

“When MEPs are asked to adopt the very short list of positive claims assessments, they may not be fully aware that they will also be adopting the massive list of prohibited claims that have been appended to the positive list.”

Other calls

In supporting the veto, HFMA joins the likes of the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) which has been lobbying hard against the NHCR at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and MEP offices in Brussels.

It has made available an information pack to all 736 MEPs highlighting its concerns about market damage and consumer choice restriction resulting from the NHCR.

Robert Verkerk PhD, executive & scientific director for the ANH said recently: "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.”

"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."

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1 comment

Communications Gap

Posted by Bill LaChenal,

Communications Gap

I believe there is a communications gap here.

There is little point appealing to MEPs as if they understand the issues & are fully informed; many don't & aren't; they are instead immersed in briefings, educated by pharmaceutical lobbyists, and by advisors who were in turn educated & briefed by pharmaceutical lobbyists.

Whilst 'we' are keen to promote the facts, obvious to us, that nutritional medicine & probiosis is highly effective (and relatively inexpensive) medicine, MEPs are hearing only that misleading 'marketing' claims should be banned forthwith.
As indeed they should.

Whilst it is obvious to us that health freedoms should be maintained, it is more than obvious to MEPs that the public should be protected from anything nonstandard.
One might shallowly argue the point.

We must approach this by understanding the mindset of these MEPs, by helping them to see. It is imperative.

It's going to be useless to expect many of them to understand straight away that germs can be good for you, indeed essential, when they know in their guts that all germs are bad & should be killed.

Maybe some of them have heard that yoghurt is good for you, but haven't made the connection yet.
Does it really make common sense for them to censor what their grandmothers might have told them?

At the moment, they seem to think so, or else they just have not heard the question properly.

We can assume that MEPs voting for the ban saw themselves as legislating to endorse two hundred or so good, "scientifically sound" health claims, allowable for marketing and harmonisation across the regions.
They saw themselves as banning nonsensical, useless & potentially dangerous claims such as "reduced salt" "low in fat". And quite right too.
They did not see themselves as censoring several thousand equally valid, but often less profitable facts such as "water can help prevent dehydration".
They almost certainly did not see themselves as wickedly preventing access to proper life-enhancing knowledge.

How many pro-ban MEPs, I wonder, would be happy if they had a full understanding of what they were voting for, what kind of arrant nonsense it represents?

But they are presented with a slanted view of the matter.

We need to approach from another angle. We have to ask ourselves:

Why should MEPs listen to us, rather than those nice pharmaceutical scientists who make such great contributions
to public health?
Why should they listen to us, when the press & media are clearly not supporting us?
(And why are the press & media, and consumer protection organisations, not supporting us?)
Why support us, when there is no great clamour from the electorate, informed as they are by those same sources, and trusting in the conventional medical profession as they do?

Those are the questions we urgently have to address.

(Please note that I retain copyright on this contribution, fair use permitted - W. LaChenal, London)

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