Lawyers present EU health claims overview for US firms

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health claims, Nutrition, European food safety authority

Legal experts for the food industry will this week hold a briefing on the European health claims regulatory landscape, designed to help US food exporters understand the current issues facing the industry.

The online conference, which is part of a quarterly food industry web conference series, will be held on Wednesday morning by the US law firm Foley & Lardner in collaboration with London-based Eversheds.

“Many US companies are still not familiar with the details of the European rules on nutrition and health claims. We’ll be giving an overview of what the regulations do and how they are operating, as well as the practical impact they are having on industry,”​ said Owen Warnock, a partner at Eversheds who will be jointly presenting the conference track on health claims.

“Many American companies find it a real challenge that there is still so much controversy and so many questions unanswered even though the regulations are implemented,”​ he told

Batch approval

One of these controversies, he said, is the ‘batch approval’ approach to the article 13.1 claims, which has been criticized as placing some companies at an unfair advantage.

So far, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published 1,080 Article 13.1 health claim opinions, released in two batches – the first in October 2009 and the second in February 2010. The next batch is expected in September this year.

Overall, 4,637 claims were submitted under Article 13.1 of the European nutrition and health claims regulation, which covers general health claims, including those linking vitamin, mineral and herbal extract consumption with health maintenance. EFSA now has another 3,259 claims to evaluate, following the withdrawal of 297 claims.

The majority of Article 13.1 opinions issued so far have been negative, including submissions linking health benefits to​vitamin D, probiotics, green tea, black tea, lutein, beta glucans, meso-zeaxanthin, alpha-lipoic acid, melatonin, peptides, xanthan gum, sugar-free gum, guar gum, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), fermented whey, linoleic acid (LA) and a range of botanical substances.

Alternative strategies

Warnock and his colleague Katharine Vickery will also provide a brief insight into how some food manufacturers in Europe are responding to the health claims uncertainty, and what a company can do if claims are banned.

The EU health claims track will last about 20 minutes. Other topics to be discussed in Foley's Quarterly Food Industry Web Conference Series​ include direct store delivery and California’s Proposition 65.

Related topics: Regulation, Product claims

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