A vote by the European Parliament that rejected an objection tabled against the list of permitted Article 13.1 health claims has been described as bringing “certainty to the consumer” by many Euro food firms in favour but also “deeply irresponsible” by those opposed.
The vote, taken on March 21 2012 by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, means Parliament is likely to pass the Europe-wide list of permitted Article 13.1 health claims into law in the near future.
Euro food firms have welcomed the vote, industry representatives FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) says: “This is an important step towards the adoption of 222 scientifically substantiated and permitted Article 13.1 generic health claims on foods… it will bring certainty to the consumer, provide information on the beneficial properties of nutrients in food and help consumers to make informed food choices, contributing to balanced diets and healthier lifestyles.”
The FDE also argues that harmonisation of the use of scientifically substantiated claims on foods across the EU would also encourage industry to continue providing valuable new scientific evidence in view of future health claim applications. Saying: “FoodDrinkEurope reiterates its call for improved dialogue and guidance between applicants and the European Food Safety Authority to provide more certainty for food business operators when investing in R&D and innovation to facilitate this further.”
However, organisations such as the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), who had campaigned to see the register scrapped to make way for a new start on health claims describe the move as “deeply irresponsible”.
Commenting before the vote, ANH critisised the health claims law as “one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever considered by the European Parliament”.
Robert Verkerk, ANH executive and scientific director of ANH-Intl said: “We believe it would be deeply irresponsible of MEPs to vote through the proposed list of permitted claims under the assumption that the problems can be fixed after the list has been implemented. The passage of the list will make all unauthorised general claims illegal within six months.
“The histories of both the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority tells us that neither are at all likely to change their approach. If MEPs want to create a fair and proportionate Regulation, as originally intended, they have no alternative but to support the objection and a veto of the proposed list.”