VITAFOODS 2017

EU botanical health claims: Plant-based dialogue finally blossoming?

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

European Commission work to achieve botanical health claim clarity may finally be on track after a seven-year delay, with a number of public and industry consultations reaching conclusion.

Resulting feedback will form the basis for recommendations, expected by the end of 2017 — a report that those attending Vitafoods are highly anticipating.

The huge delay is the result of clashes between rules for health claims on botanicals used in food and claims for therapeutic uses of traditional herbal medicinal products. Such a discrepancy raised concerns as to how botanical ingredients should be dealt with, while ensuring no misleading claims appear on foods.

In the meantime, Belgium, Italy and France have taken matters into their own hands voluntary cooperating to create the BELFRIT project – a common approach designed to regulate botanical use in food supplements.

However, the Commission has been working on its own project as part of its Better Regulation agenda, with the Regulatory Fitness Evaluation (REFIT) serving to evaluate whether rules for botanical health claims used in foods are up to the task.

“This REFIT Evaluation is a key tool to assess the efficiency of the legislation and to develop the necessary evidence base to feed into any decision on whether or not it should be adjusted,” ​said Belgian MEP Pascal Arimont in a speech given back in November 2016.

“In particular, it will allow the Commission to take a fully informed decision on the use of health claims on botanicals – and clarify whether there is a need to harmonise the use of botanicals in the EU, and to what extent this needs to happen.”

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