Use our botanical and we’ll pay for the health claim, Spanish firm promises

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Alicante-based company looks to use EU funding for verbena and roselle health claim
Alicante-based company looks to use EU funding for verbena and roselle health claim

Related tags European union functional beverage beverage

Spanish botanical firm Monteloeder has promised to invest €600,000 in helping its clients launch products containing its MetabolAid if it wins a €2m EU innovation grant.

The firm has already secured €50,000 for its botanical product through the EU’s Horizon 2020 innovation programme and is now going for second-stage funding.

If successful, the firm promises to use some of this grant to match the cost of development, commercialisation and marketing of new products containing MetabolAid in Europe, the US and Asia. It would set aside €200,000 for a partner in each region.

It already had a potential partner in Japan but was looking for two other companies in Europe and the US. 

“The money will also pay for an application to obtain EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] approval for MetabolAid under the EU’s nutrition & health claims regulation [NHCR],” ​it said in its release.

MetabolAid is a combination of verbena (Lippia citrodora​) and roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa​). It is water-soluble and suitable for use in supplements, beverages and some food products.

Botanical bragging

Monteloeder claims its product can help battle metabolic syndrome.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) classifies metabolic syndrome as a medical term for the combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

It also increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions affecting blood vessels.

The botanical sector has been subject to a long-running disagreement on the kind of evidence required to prove efficacy. 

There are about 2000 botanical health claims currently on hold, within which 500 received a negative opinion from EFSA.

EFSA requires human studies to prove efficacy, but the majority of botanical health claim dossiers rely on 'traditional use' evidence. 

Talking with NutraIngredients Fernando Cartagena, global head of marketing at Monteloeder, conceded that it could not promise a client a health claim in this environment.

“But what we are saying is that a very significant part of the funding will be directed towards carrying the necessary studies to get a claim. We know that there is uncertainty on the outcome but we have already spoken with the best consulting firms in Europe on this matter and we believe, if studies are carried out correctly, there is a good chance we could get it.”

Monteloeder already commissioned the University Miguel Hernández de Elche in Spain to conduct a human clinical study with 46 overweight and moderately obese females.

It said the as yet unpublished results of the two-month study were “extremely positive”​.

Meanwhile the European Commission confirmed last week that breaking the botanical deadlock would be one of its key priorities for 2016​. 

Cartagena said in a release: “Launching a new product to consumers can be risky and expensive, so this represents an excellent opportunity for us to help our customers by taking on some of the financial burden.”

Biggest ever EU research fund

The European Commission said Horizon 2020 was the biggest ever EU research and innovation programme, with about €80 billion of funding up for grabs between 2014 and 2020.

Competition is tough though with only 14% of companies successful in their applications for funding.

Cartagena said the company stood a good chance since the Horizon 2020 programme rewarded companies taking a collaborative approach to innovation and the commercialisation of science. 

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