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Last Updated:[21-07-2009 08:14:53 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

The EU Agency Rejects Hype on Health Claims of Food Products



tradenews The EU’s food safety agency EFSA has rejected the claims of about 65 food products of their unproven health benefits through its scientific investigation. The EFSA’s (European Food Safety Authority) findings will have grave implications on the sales of the these products not only in Europe but across the world as products involved in the alleged cheating include global players such as Unilever and Nestlé.

The EFSA’s announcement of assessment in batches with pending 4000 other products for inspection has led to a flashpoint with the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries in the EU (CIAA). The industry organisation has informed the European Commission (EC) that assessment report in batches would damage the reputation of other products those are under inspection, and would not be assessed by the 31 January 2010 deadline. The organisation has requested to hold an immediate dialogue with EFSA to iron out differences.

The EFSA report affirmed several products of popular companies had deceived the consumers with health benefit claims ranging from improving immune system to brain growth in babies. Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Lipton black tea, fish oil supplements and some pro-biotic supplements came under severe attack for their unproven and unscientific health claims in the report.

Ocean Spray had claimed that drinking its cranberry juice could protect women against urinary infections. Similarly, Unilever was with a claim that Lipton black tea made people more alert and energetic. On the other hand, Equazen claimed its fish oil products could help the central nervous system development in foetuses and breastfed infants. EFSA’s findings rejected all such claims in its clinical trials.

The findings is expected to shake the fundamentals of marketing strategies of high-end food products which largely enjoyed and earned loyalty over many decades without any intervention by such agencies. Though various sources have always criticized the health claim advertising, this is the first time an inter-governmental organization coming out with such a finding which is as a result of the EU’s nutrition and health food regulation of 2006 that mandated manufacturers must substantiate health claims of their products.

By Jose Roy




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