Health claim success! EFSA confirms carbohydrate drinks are beneficial for performance in high-intensity exercise

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sports nutrition firms can now use claims relating to performance benefit for carbohydrate solutions after EFSA’s latest positive opinion.

According to the scientific opinion, published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the consumption of carbohydrate solutions during high-intensity and long-lasting physical exercise has a beneficial effect of physical performance. As such, the Article 13(5) claim will now be authorised for use on-pack.

An application for the claim was filed via French authorities by Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE) – the trade association representing the interests of the specialised nutrition industry across the European Union. After receiving the application EFSA asked its Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) to provide a scientific opinion for the substantiation of the proposed claim.

Published today, the NDA Panel opinion provides a positive judgment of the science and concludes that the claim is permissible based on the available scientific evidence.

“The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of CHO solutions and the improvement of physical performance during high-intensity and long-lasting physical exercise,”​ reads the opinion.

As such, the NDA Panel suggests that the wording of the claim as follows reflects the scientific evidence: ‘Carbohydrate solutions can contribute to the improvement of physical performance during a high-intensity and long-lasting physical exercise in healthy trained adults’.

The EFSA documentation also notes that in order to obtain the claimed effect, carbohydrate solutions (containing glucose, mixtures of glucose and fructose, sucrose and/or maltodextrins) should be consumed to provide between 30 and 60 grams of CHO per hour, and up to 90 grams CHO/h if fructose constitutes about one-third of the CHO mixture.

Positive response

Commenting on the EFSA opinion, SNE said it is pleased the authority has confirmed the ‘well established’ beneficial health effects of glycaemic carbohydrates for the improvement of physical performance during a high-intensity and long-lasting physical exercise.

SNE is pleased that today, EFSA confirms – once again – the beneficial health effects of sports nutrition for sportspeople,” ​said SNE President Professor Udo Herz. “During intense physical activity, sportspeople are prone to nutritional deficiencies, including a depletion of the body’s carbohydrate reserves, causing fatigue during exercise.”

“Sports nutrition has a crucial role in maintaining the appropriate supply of nutrients during intense physical performance,” ​he added – noting that health claims are ‘essential tools’ that can help sportspeople to identify foods specially formulated to respond to their particular nutritional needs.

SNE added that it considers the opinion as a stepping stone towards the adaptation of the General (EU) Food Law for sports food, which it says should ensure its safe use, and the provision of appropriate information for sportspeople.

“SNE hopes that this EFSA positive opinion will re-open the debate at EU level on the need to adapt the General EU Food Law for sports food, and calls upon EU decision-makers to work towards the European harmonization of specific provisions governing sports food,”​ it said in a press statement.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy

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