No juice: Prickly pear extract hangover cure encounters EU headache

By Shane STARLING contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Opuntia, European food safety authority, Nutrition

Opuntia ficus-indica's hangover-curing ability was not assessed by EFSA as it deemed the claim too general
Opuntia ficus-indica's hangover-curing ability was not assessed by EFSA as it deemed the claim too general
The EU’s chief science agency has turned down a hangover health claim for a prickly pear extract before even evaluating the science behind it because it said the claim was too vague.

Opuntia ficus-indica​ extracts could help in the, “rapid recovery of cellular activity post stress”​ proposed Maltese firm ICP Ltd but the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said the article 13.5 claim was ‘non-specific’ and threw it out without passing comment on the dossier’s contents.

Institute of Cellular Pharmacology (ICP) was not available for comment but UK-based EU food law expert Owen Warnock said article 10.3 of the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) was clear about non-specific claims.

“What’s more in practical operation of the NHCR, EFSA can only assess the scientific validity of a claim if it is specific enough to be defined and assessed,”​ Warnock told us.

“A claim also need to be specific enough for a consumer to understand it since article 5 says a claim may be used only if an average consumer can understand the claim.”

Warnock said, ‘rapid recovery of cellular activity post stress’, “did not indicate clearly any particular aspect of cellular activity.”

“The case illustrates the need for applicants to be precise about the nature of the beneficial effect being claimed if they are to win approval.  This application looks, from the EFSA opinion, not to have been well-prepared or thorough – but the applicant may well have been hampered by what appears to be a fairly thin scientific evidence base.”

The NDA opinion can be found here​.

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