Following an application from IDACE, submitted for authorisation of a health claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of France, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to iron and contribution to normal cognitive development.
The scope of the application was proposed to fall under a health claim referring to children’s development and health.
The food constituent that is the subject of the health claim is iron, which is a well recognised nutrient and is measurable in foods by established methods. The Panel considers that iron is sufficiently characterised.
The claimed effect proposed by the applicant is “important for the cognitive development of infants and young children”. The target population proposed by the applicant is “infants and young children from birth to three years of age”. The Panel considers that contribution to normal cognitive development is a beneficial physiological effect for infants and young children.
The evidence provided by consensus opinions/reports from authoritative bodies and reviews shows that there is consensus on the role of iron in cognitive development and function. Insufficient iron intake results in iron deficiency signs and symptoms, including anaemia, impaired psychomotor development and impaired cognitive performance. The cognitive deficiency symptoms observed in subjects with iron-deficiency anaemia include deficits in attention, perceptual motor speed, memory and verbal fluency.
A claim on iron and cognitive development in children (up to 18 years) has already been assessed by the Panel with a favourable outcome. The Panel notes that the role of iron in normal cognitive development also applies to infants and young children (from birth to three years).
The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between dietary intake of iron and contribution to normal cognitive development.
The following wording reflects the scientific evidence: “Iron contributes to normal cognitive development”.
The Panel considers that, in order to bear the claim, follow-on formulae should comply with the criteria of composition of follow-on formulae as laid down in Directive 2006/141/EC; nutritionally complete foods for special medical purposes intended for use by infants and nutritionally complete foods for special medical purposes other than those intended for use by infants should comply with the criteria of composition of these foods as laid down in Directive 1999/21/EC; processed cereal-based foods for infants and young children should comply with the criteria of composition of these foods as laid down in Directive 2006/125/EC; other foodstuffs intended for infants and young children should provide at least 15 % of the reference values for nutrition labelling for foods intended for infants and young children as laid down in Directive 2006/125/EC. Such amounts can be easily consumed as part of a balanced diet. The target population is infants and children up to three years. No Upper Tolerable Intake Level has been set for iron in this age group.