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Status of nutrition and health claims in Europe by mid 2015

Verhagen, Hans, van Loveren, Henk
Trends in food science & technology 2016 v.56 pp. 39-45
European Union, antioxidants, attitudes and opinions, bacteria, digestion, food safety, functional foods, growth and development, guidelines, health claims, lactose, minerals, nutrients, nutrition labeling, risk reduction, vitamins, yogurt, Europe
Functional foods are closely associated with claims on foods. There are two categories of claims on foods: nutrition claims and health claims. Nutrition claims refer to what a food contains and comprise content claims and comparative claims. Health claims refer to what a food does and refer to general function claims, claims related to a reduction of risk of disease and claims related to the growth and development of children.Health claims on (functional) foods must be scientifically substantiated. In December 2006, the European Union published Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provides the scientific advice to the European Commission for health claims submitted under Regulation 1924/2006. By 2015, EFSA has evaluated around 3000 health claims.The outcome of the scientific evaluation process was that ca 250 health claims have been evaluated with a positive outcome, a few with insufficient evidence, whereas the large majority of health claims proposals were evaluated with the conclusion that the claim was not supported by scientific evidence. In addition to hundreds of opinions on health claims, EFSA has published various guidelines related to the scientific substantiation of health claims on foods and guidance documents for health claims related to diverse health endpoints. Upon scientific evaluation by EFSA, it is up to the European Commission and the member States to decide on authorisation. EU Regulation 432/2012 has established a list of general function claims under article 13 of Regulation 1924/2006.Most health claims that have been approved and authorised are in the area of general functions claims for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. EFSA hitherto has not found sufficient scientific support for health claims on microorganisms except for lactose digestion by yoghurt bacteria, and only a few on “antioxidants”. There are several substantiated health claims in the area of fibres and oligosaccharides. As from 14 December 2012, all claims that are not authorised or on hold/under consideration are prohibited.