August 27, 2012
BRUSSELS, BelgiumFollowing the recent publication of the European Commission (EC) discussion paper on health claims for botanicals used in foods, the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) has called for a review of the assessment methodology used by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which currently ignored traditional use as a factor.
EC had halted EFSA's assessment of health claims involving botanical substances in order to rethink the legislation and approach to health claim assessment. The commission is now seeking input from EU Member States via questions included in the discussion paper.
The discussion paper also offers different options for proceeding with the botanical health claims assessment. EHPM opposes option one, because it calls for resuming EFSA's current assessment approach, which the trade group argues does not address the issues on the table. Instead, EHPM favors option two, which requires a review of the legislation; the group said this is the most logical choice, as the assessment methodology should rely on traditional use due to the specificities of botanicals.
The current EFSA approach does not consider traditional information alone as sufficient evidence for the substantiation of a claim, said Keith Legge chairman of EHPM. With no changes to the approach towards traditional use, most of the health claims on botanicals will no longer be authorized, while medicinal claims will continue to be allowed based only on traditional use. This would create an unfair competitive situation between the pharmaceutical and food supplement sectors, which cannot be logically justified.
The trade group also argued the reflection on botanicals should not be limited only to health claims, but should also cover safety and quality. The problem of claims cannot be separated from other aspects that concern botanical food supplements, such as safety, quality and borderline issues," Legge said. "We therefore encourage the Commission and the Member States to reflect on a future harmonized legal framework that would offer a coherent approach to, and tailored solutions for, botanicals on these issues.
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