Major Dutch and UK groups sue EU over health claim laws

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Major Dutch and UK groups sue EU over health claims

Related tags: Health claims regulation, European union

Food supplement and healthy food groups in the UK and the Netherlands have appealed to EU courts to annul the recently approved ‘Permitted List Regulation’ that wrote into law 222 health claims and rejected about 1500 others.

The groups said the “last resort”​ action demands the annulment of the article 13.1 general function claim list and calls on the, “Commission to go back and correct the flaws in its approach and produce the permitted list more in keeping with the original spirit and intention of the ‘Parent Regulation’, the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR) 1924/2006/EC.”

Martin Last, chair of the UK Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA), said: “We are only taking this action as a last resort because the European Commission has failed to respond to our legitimate concerns.”

“From the start we’ve cooperated in good faith to help execute the Health Claims Regulation, but are now very unhappy with the flawed and inappropriate way that both the Commission and EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority) have decided to implement this legislation.”

Last said a 2007 report by the UK’s Food Standards Agency had affirmed most well-established health claims were expected to continue to be allowed on the market.

“The way this Regulation is being implemented risks denying consumers access to the very information that they need…”

Disastrous implementation…failed on several counts

Mischa Strijder, chair of the Natuur-en Gezondheidsproducten Nederland (NPN), stated: “The disastrous implementation of this legislation has failed on several counts. The European Commission failed to provide clear and timely guidance, in fact the first guidance only appeared some 18 months after the deadline for the submission of potential health claims.”

“NPN did its best to cope with the level of uncertainty created by the Commission and it is very unfortunate that our efforts to assist the Commission in arriving at a proportionate and fair ‘Permitted List’ were completely disregarded. We hope that the Court will provide the clarity and certainty that the Commission failed to provide.”

The action, lodged in the General Court of the European Union, is joined by NPN member, New Care Supplements, and HFMA members, Natures Aid and Quest Vitamins.

Previous

Earlier in the year, professors Moritz Hagenmeyer and Andreas Hahn, also mounted a legal action against the regulation they posited should be “declared void”​ on nine separate grounds including:

  • Arbitrary and unnecessary reliance on ‘reduction in disease risk factors’ (“legally unjustified”)
  • The existence of a disease risk factor in their own article 14 submission rejected last year
  • Non-proportionality
  • Breach of “essential procedural requirements”
  • Breach of time limits

The two professors were behind a water-hydration claim that failed to win a positive opinion from EFSA.

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