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BEUC welcomes EFSA's approach on Evaluation of Health Claims Made on Foods

26 August 2008
by eub2 -- last modified 26 August 2008

BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation, welcomes the strict approach taken by EFSA's Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) when evaluating the first eight applications on claims relating to disease risk reduction and children's health claims.


On 21 August 2008, EFSA's NDA Panel published its first 8 opinions where it concluded that for six of the applications, a cause-effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of the product and the claimed effect. In one opinion it concluded that the evidence provided does not establish a benefit for normal growth and development of children. Only in the opinion on plant sterols EFSA concluded that a cause-effect relationship has been established between consumption of the product and the claimed effect. 
We acknowledge that EFSA's NDA Panel is cautiously applying the Scientific and Technical guidance for authorisation of a health claim as adopted in July last year. We are, in particular, pleased that the evaluations have taken account of the extent to which the claimed effect of the food/ingredient is relevant to public health and whether a cause and effect relationship was established in humans. 
Consumers value products which bear claims more than products without a claim. In addition, they may associate the presence of a claim with other health attributes not mentioned in the claim (e.g. low fat): the over-generalisation effect. For this reason, health claims should only be allowed for use after scientific assessment of the highest possible standard. 
In order for consumers to maintain confidence in the added value of products which bear a claim, it is crucial that EFSA's scientific and technical guidelines for the authorisation of a health claim are carefully applied. BEUC urges EFSA to continue applying the strict authorisation criteria rigorously when evaluating the further 220 such claims that it has received.  
Finally, BEUC urges the European Commission  and Member States to seriously take into consideration the opinions of EFSA when they consider the possible authorisation of health claims.

The European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) was created in 1962 by the consumer organisations of Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. After working together for a number of years, these organisations decided to create a European association, based in Brussels, right at the heart of Community policy. BEUC was a pioneer, one of the first lobbying organisations to set up base in the European capital in a bid to influence the decision-making process.

BEUC - The European Consumers' Organisation