EU Health Product Manufacturers Call for Guidance on Flexibility of Claims Wording

09 Feb 2012 --- Welcoming the European Commission’s decision to allow the food sector some flexibility when making claims, EHPM said that because of concerns that the average consumer will not understand some of the scientific terminology, claims should be accompanied by further explanatory details.

Feb 9 2012 --- Guidance on the acceptability of flexible wordings when communicating article 13.1 health claims to consumers will be valuable for both enforcement bodies and companies, the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) has said.

Welcoming the European Commission’s decision to allow the food sector some flexibility when making claims, EHPM said that because of concerns that the average consumer will not understand some of the scientific terminology, claims should be accompanied by further explanatory details.

“We have concerns whether the average consumer will understand scientific terminology such as ‘Homocystein metabolism’, ‘normal neurotransmission’, ‘cell division and differentiation’ and ‘sulphur amino acid metabolism’,” said EHPM Chairman Peter van Doorn. “Consumers may not interpret correctly many of the wordings listed in the annex of the draft Regulation establishing a list of permitted health claims. Therefore, it is essential that wordings can be adapted to consumer language.”

The European trade association highlighted the dual and equal requirement in the Regulation for claims to be “based on generally accepted scientific evidence” and “well understood by the average consumer”.

EHPM said that based on these requirements companies should be permitted to mention some of the specific functions and definitions cited in the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) opinions, stating that this would provide consumers with valuable advice.
“We believe that such clarifications would greatly assist consumer understanding,” said van Doorn. “For example, a message such as ‘Pantothenic acid contributes to normal mental performance’, which relates to EFSA’s definition of mental performance as standing for those aspects of brain and nerve functions which determine aspects like concentration, learning, memory and reasoning. We hope that the European Commission and Member States take into consideration this approach with regard to flexibility.”

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