EFSA publishes fifth series of evaluations of ‘general function’ health claims

On 30 June 2011 EFSA’s NDA panel[1] finalised the evaluation of all ‘general function’ health claims[2] due to be adopted by that date. With the publication of this fifth series of scientific opinions, EFSA adds an additional 536 claims to the 2,187 claims published to date. A remaining group of 35 claims will be published in July 2011. The European Commission and Member States will then consider EFSA’s scientific advice in deciding on the possible authorisation of such claims for food products.

EFSA is liaising closely with the European Commission and stands ready to provide any further support which could be required in the assessment of ‘general function’ health claims.

Of the 536 claims evaluated in this latest series, favourable outcomes include the relation between specific dietary fibres and blood cholesterol; cereal fibre and bowel function; carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks and endurance performance; low sodium and blood pressure; dietary fibre and reduced increase in blood glucose after meals; melatonin and sleep onset and very low calorie diet in relation of body weight. 

Other claims in this series received unfavourable evaluations because NDA Panel experts concluded that they were not sufficiently specific, such as claims on “women’s health” or “mental energy”, or that they referred to food categories which were considered to be too broad, such as “fruits and vegetables”, “dairy products”, to be linked to specific effects. Other claims were unfavourably assessed because they were not supported by any relevant studies in humans. Such studies are central to the establishment of a cause and effect relationship between the food or substance concerned and the beneficial health effect claimed.

This series of opinions will be followed by a sixth series of assessments of 35 claims in July 2011.

Notes to editors

Out of the 4,637 claims submitted to EFSA by the European Commission between July 2008 and March 2010, the European Commission asked EFSA to evaluate 2,758 claims by June 2011, 331 claims were withdrawn and 1,548 claims on “botanicals” have been placed on hold by the Commission pending further consideration on how to proceed with these.

Timeline of publications of EFSA’s evaluations in this area:

  • 1st October 2009, 521 health claims addressed in 94 opinions
  • 25th February 2010, 416 health claims covered in 31 opinions
  • 19th October 2010, 808 health claims, addressed in 75 opinions
  • 8th April 2011, 442 health claims, addressed in 63 opinions
  • 30th June 2011, 536 health claims, addressed in 73 opinions
  • July 2011, 35 health claims addressed in 5 opinions

[1] EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies.
[2] ‘General function’ claims defined under Article 13.1 of the Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on food include: The role of a nutrient/substance in growth, development and the functions of the body; psychological and behavioural functions; slimming and weight control or reduction of hunger, increase of satiety or the reduction of available energy from the diet. These claims do not include those related to children's development or health or disease risk reduction.

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