EFSA Press Release, 23 October 2008
EFSA's Panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies Panel (NDA) has started evaluating the scientific substantiation of health claims indicated in the draft list received from the European Commission in July [See note 1 below] and which have passed the pre-screening stage. These are functional claims based on generally accepted science and their scientific substantiation is being carried out in line with article 13 of the Regulation on nutrition and health claims made on food (Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods).
EFSA's scientific evaluation will help ensure that claims made on food labelling and advertising regarding nutrition and health are meaningful and accurate, and can thereby help consumers in making healthy diet choices.
Before embarking on the scientific evaluation of the claims, EFSA needed to pre-screen the 2,870 entries in the draft list received by the European Commission in order to differentiate between those claims which can already be assessed and those for which more information is needed. To this end, EFSA's scientists have agreed to apply six criteria to ensure a thorough and consistent screening of the health claims entries.
Claims which are vague, not properly described, or whose conditions of use have not been spelled out, or whose scope or health relationship are unclear, will be sent back to the Commission for further clarification.
“EFSA has already carried out a considerable amount of preparatory work for this and is aiming to meet the deadline of 31 July, 2009 for those claims for which sufficient data were received,” the Chair of EFSA's NDA Panel Professor Albert Flynn said.
EFSA expects to receive a final list of Article 13 claims. This final list will reflect the outcome of the meetings between the Commission and Member States on the content of the draft list and further submission of claims from Member States since July. This final list will be published on the EFSA website in November. When publishing this list, EFSA will indicate which claims will be evaluated by EFSA and by when. EFSA will also indicate those claims for which more information is needed before evaluation can begin.
In order to streamline the scientific work, the NDA Panel has decided to set up a number of sub-working groups of scientific experts having expertise in various types of claims (e.g. claims related to cardiovascular health, mental performance, immune system, weight control). These groups will contribute to the opinions which will ultimately be adopted by the NDA Panel. Information on the sub-working groups is available on EFSA's website and will be updated on a regular basis.
EFSA's advice on the scientific validity of the claims will help the European Commission to draw up a list of those claims permitted under Article 13 of Regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods. The list will need to be established by the Commission and Member States by January 2010.
Regular updates on the NDA Panel's work in this area will be provided on EFSA's website.
The following additional notes have been provided:
 At the end of July 2008, EFSA received a request from the European Commission for an opinion on the Community list of permitted health claims pursuant to article 13 of Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. At that time, EFSA also received a draft list of health claims. The request, the terms of reference and correspondence defining the scope of this work are available on the EFSA website.