EFSA and industry exchange views on guidance on gut and immune function health claims
Nearly 200 representatives from the food and drink industry, academia, Member States and the European Commission, attended a meeting in Amsterdam to discuss with EFSA experts the scientific requirements for health claims related to gut and immune function. The meeting addressed and provided further clarification to two main questions: which claimed effects are considered beneficial for human health; and which studies or outcome measures are appropriate for the substantiation of health claims. The meeting was also watched live by more than 2,500 viewers.
In the area of gut and immune health claims, the meeting offered EFSA experts the opportunity to further explain the general approach used in the assessment of the claims and provide clarifications on issues raised during the consultation and at the meeting. The discussions also showed there were many commonly held views, both amongst participants and EFSA experts, for instance on how to substantiate health benefits related to gut function, such as regularity, and defence against gut infections. In other areas such as claims related to immunity and claims on health effects of gut bacteria, the meeting was a good opportunity to exchange views on how to demonstrate the health benefit.
Concluding the meeting Professor Albert Flynn, Chair of EFSA’s Panel dealing with Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) said: ”Today, we heard in detail the challenges applicants face when preparing applications for health claims. This meeting has been very helpful for us in developing more detailed guidance.”
In her closing remarks, Dr. Juliane Kleiner, Co-ordinator of EFSA’s NDA Unit said that EFSA will update its guidance on the scientific requirements for health claims related to gut and immune functions early in 2011, taking into consideration the discussions at the Amsterdam meeting and all comments received during the on-line consultation launched in September 2010 in preparation for the meeting. A full report of the meeting will also be published on EFSA’s website in the coming months.
This meeting, and the on-line consultation, are part of EFSA’s commitment to pursue dialogue with stakeholders to further explain how it carries out its work and to provide applicants with additional guidance on the preparation of health claims applications in selected areas. In the first months of 2011, EFSA will organise three more consultations on health claims related to:
- Appetite ratings, weight management and blood glucose concentrations
- Protection against oxidative damage; cardiovascular health, and
- Bone, joint connective tissue and oral health
In September 2010, EFSA published a stakeholder briefing document on its website on the scientific requirements for health claims related to gut and immune function prepared under Articles 13.1, 13.5 and 14. Participants were asked to comment on the document ahead of the meeting. The document served as a basis for discussion and clarification during the meeting.