The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a second series of opinions on a list of “general function” health claims compiled by Member States and the European Commission (EC). Scientific experts on EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) assessed all available scientific data submitted to substantiate the 416 health claims. These opinions have been sent to the EC and to Member States, which will ultimately decide whether to authorize these claims or not. The evaluations of the NDA Panel were positive when there was sufficient “scientific evidence available to support the claim,” such as those related to vitamins and minerals. Experts issued unfavorable opinions on most of the claims in the second series due to the “poor quality of the information provided to EFSA,” including: lack of information to identify the substance on which the claim is based (e.g., “probiotics”); lack of evidence that the claimed effect is indeed beneficial to the maintenance or improvement of the functions of the body (e.g., food with “antioxidant properties”); or lack of human studies with reliable measures of the claimed health benefit. This is the second series of opinions on “general function” health claims and the panel is continuing its work on the remaining claims on the list.
In other developments, the EU has passed nutrition claims for omega 3s that will allow food products to claim they are either a “source of omega 3 fatty acids” or that they contain “high omega 3 fatty acids.” In order to make a source claim, products must contain either 40 mg of EPA+DHA per 100 grams and kCal or 300 mg of ALA, according to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3s (GOED). Alternatively, to make a “high” content claim, a product must contain 80 mg EPA+DHA per 100 grams and kCal or 600 mg ALA. The levels for EPA+DHA usage were based on an EFSA opinion that 250 mg of intake per day will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population.