The official EU approval now means the claim “vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system” can be used for products targeting children aged three and under and children aged three to 18.
VAB-nutrition's director, Véronique Braesco, said the claims were particularly interesting given vitamin D’s “hot topic” status in nutrition research recently.
“There is the draft for dietary reference values for vitamin D, which is now in the public consultation phase. This claim increases the recommended amount for vitamin D, which could go from 5 micrograms (μg) to 15 μg per day, even for children,” said Braesco.
The company managed the claim application relating to older children on behalf of its clients, although Braesco said she could not name names.
Immune benefits not known by public
She said the claim will help suppliers explain the benefits of vitamin D
“I assume there will be some interest from industries around vitamin D, to better help consumers to reach this amount, which is indeed very high. At the same time, I think it’s logical to explain to the consumer why it’s important, and why it’s important for children in particular.
“There are already claims authorised around bone health, which are more or less known by consumers – but the immunity part is not really known, for children or adults. But now we should have an increase in the recommendation – although it’s not decided yet – all this makes sense, to have more possibilities to explain to consumers the importance of vitamin D, and the importance of raising their intake,” added Braesco.
She suggested the claims would give a boost to a wide range of industry players.
“We’ve been working on this claim with our clients, and they will be using it. But this is not a claim with an exclusivity.
“I do think this claim will of course benefit the clients who asked for it, but there will also be a much broader use for other companies, in vitamins in general, and also in vitamin fortification and things like that,” Braesco added.
Long period of scrutiny
The claim has been processing through the EU’s bureaucracy for some time, with VAB-nutrition submitting the dossier at the start of 2015.
Although EFSA issued a positive opinion in May 2015, the European Commission took a “relatively long” time to make a final decision, according to Braesco.
“I say long, because it shouldn’t have been a difficult dossier – EFSA was very clear on its positive opinion. But because it deals with children, I think it’s always a bit more sensitive for the Commission, so they wanted to have a closer look at that,” she said, noting the Commission also wanted to deal with the second vitamin D claim, for younger children, at the same time.