NPN (Gezondheidsproducten Nederland) director general Saskia Geurts told us the group had submitted an ‘elegant’ proposal to the European Commission last week and had informed other EU national associations of its action this week.
Coming in response to the EC’s 2012 ‘Discussion Paper on Health Claims on Botanicals used in Foods’, which laid out options to deal with the situation including a new directive to deal with botanicals, Geurts said no such drastic move was required.
“We think our proposal is a lean solution to modify the existing law (nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR)). It is an elegant solution.”
The group emphasised a separation in the debate about traditional data and botanicals, which have been coupled as 1500+ botanical NHCR submissions were put on hold in 2010 over traditional use data concerns. They have remained that way since.
“Herbs at the moment are the biggest problem but not the only problem,” said Geurts.
NPN said in a statement that, “the free movement of so called ‘botanicals’ became mixed with the problem that, in the [NHCR], the European legislators omitted a simplified procedure for regulating the use of traditional health claims for foods.”
“This problem came to light when attention was drawn to the discrepancy with the fact that traditional therapeutic indications are allowed for medicines under the [EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive].”
NPN along with Federsalus in Italy and the UK Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) have challenged the NHCR in EU courts, arguing for the annulment of the 13.1 general function claim list that contains more than 230 mostly vitamin and mineral-based health claim approvals under the NHCR but has rejected 1500+ claims.