Food Law News - EU - 2009

FSA Update, 9 July 2009

CLAIMS – FSA Update Following Discussions in Commission Working Group on Implementing Regulation 1924/2006 on Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, 6 July 2009

Amendments to the Nutrition Claims Annex

Discussion on amendments to the nutrition claims Annex was limited to the 5 claims proposed for a vote at SCFCAH on 15 July (source of and high in omega 3, high in monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and unsaturated fat).  Another working group will be held on 17 July to consider additional amendments to the Annex. 

Discussion on omega 3 claims exposed a wide variety of views on the relevance of short chain omega 3 claims, the cumulative criteria (i.e. “per 100g and per 100kcal”), and the baseline for the conditions of use for the “source of” and “high in” claims (currently 15% and 30% respectively of 200mg EPA/DHA).  The Commission concluded that it would need to look at the usefulness of one generic claim, or whether the claim should distinguish between short chain and long chain omega 3.  The baseline would be reviewed in light of the impending EFSA opinion on labelling reference values for fatty acids, available in the week commencing 13 July, which is likely to recommend a reference level of 250mg EPA/DHA.  Discussion on the cumulative criteria was inconclusive.  However, most Member States thought that the reasoning behind the inclusion of the cumulative criteria, to take into account of the actual amounts of products consumed, was sound. 

Some Member States were concerned that all 5 claims should include disqualifying criteria based on levels of saturated or trans-fatty acids.  The Commission explained that it had been necessary to take a pragmatic approach when taking into account the presence of less desirable fatty acids in the conditions of use, and what was proposed was the best way forward considering the structure of the Annex.  Concerns about the omega 3 to omega 6 ratios were raised and that some foods not immediately seen as containing fat (e.g. coffee) could qualify for one or more unsaturated fat claim.  Member States offered data on these issues and the Commission said it would consider this further.

However, the Commission was clear that it felt a vote could be taken at the next Standing Committee on 15 July and urged cooperation.

EFSA opinions

Discussion about a new Article 13(5) claim for water soluble tomato concentrate and ‘maintains normal platelet aggregation’ focused on consumer understanding, and whether a reference to platelet aggregation was helpful, or necessary as it formed an important part of the scientific advice.  Some Member States raised concerns that the effect was in fact about reduction, not maintenance and queried whether it should be an Article 14 or even medicinal claim.  Since no vote is required the Commission said it would consider Member States’ views before taking a decision.

Article 13 opinions

The Commission explained its intention to delay publication of EFSA’s opinions on Article 13 claims until all had been assessed and so avoid the possibility of commercial disadvantage from piecemeal publication of opinions.  Publication of the 4000+ opinions is now not likely to be until the second half of 2010. Most Member States agreed with the intention behind this approach.

Article 13(5) and 14 Health Claims

Following discussion at previous meetings about satiety claims, the Commission has asked EFSA to provide further advice on the relevance of the energy value of the product against a comparator, the duration of effect, the risk of overconsumption at the next meal and conditions of use.  Feedback from EFSA is expected by 31 July at the latest.

Date of next meeting: 17 July

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