SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - EuropeUS edition | Asian edition

News > Policy

Read more breaking news

 

 

Irish MEP: “We have opened a can of worms that EFSA and the Commission would have much preferred remained closed”

By Shane Starling , 08-Mar-2012
Last updated on 09-Mar-2012 at 16:44 GMT2012-03-09T16:44:59Z

Irish MEP: “We have opened a can of worms that EFSA and the Commission would have much preferred remained closed”
Irish MEP: “We have opened a can of worms that EFSA and the Commission would have much preferred remained closed”
Loading the player...

Irish MEP Marian Harkin has become one of the most vocal European parliamentary opponents of the interpretation and application of the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR), and she was not appeased by EC and EFSA statements at a specially convened parliamentary meeting in Brussels yesterday.

There Harkin pointed to a clause in the NHCR she said indicated different types of claims (article 14 disease risk factor reduction versus article 13 general function claims for example) should be treated with differing scientific criteria, as UK nutritionist professor David Richardson indicated in his presentation at the event.

But the European Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate (DG Sanco) representative, Basil Mathioudakis, flatly rejected Harkin’s implication, reaffirming the EC guidance that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) treat all health claim submissions equally in a scientific sense.

Speaking afterwards, Harkin expressed her frustration at the perceived stonewalling of what she said is clearly written in ‘recital 26’ of the 2006 regulation.

“No I was not happy with the answers I received because I voted for this regulation and as a legislator I expect the intent of the legislation to be carried through by the Commission and EFSA," she said.

“If you look at recital 26 the intent of the parliament is very clear. Recital 26 says that health claims other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and children’s development and health based on generally accepted scientific evidence should undergo a different type of assessment and authorisation.”

Tsunami

Harkin reasoned a unified application of scientific criteria may have simplified dossier assessment for EFSA’s NDA health claims panel.

“I understand EFSA have a big problem,” she said. “I understand they were absolutely snowed under with the number of claims. It was like a tsunami hitting them so therefore they left the same level of assessment for all claims yet that was never intended by the legislator.”

“We have opened a can of worms that EFSA and the Commission would have much preferred remained closed.”

Harkin added that the day had delivered another “bombshell” when Mathioudakis admitted retail staff may be liable to prosecution if they give nutritional advice to customers on banned claims, but that enforcement was the responsibility of individual member state authorities.

Minefield

The Irish MEP, who is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, was unimpressed by Mathioudakis’s suggestion that retailers could employ certain “tricks” to convey nutrient-health messaging such as the use of newspaper articles in-store.

“Is that we are asking food operators to resort to? This is a minefield,” she warned. “It will be impossible to implement and it is only by turning a blind eye that many of those shops can continue to operate. We cannot let a piece of legislation like this emerge with the parliament’s consent because we are the last line – right now – that can say yes or no to this.”

The NHCR text containing recital 26 can be found here.

Related products

FiE 2015: Our best bits

FiE 2015: Our best bits

Our teams of journalists were out in force at Food Ingredients Europe (FiE) last...

New tech on EFSA’s horizon: Crowdsourcing and cyber assistants

New tech on EFSA’s horizon: Crowdsourcing and cyber assistants

New technology like crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence computers is the future of risk assessment,...

Lab meat, plant proteins and insects: Which alternative proteins will feed the world?

Lab meat, plant proteins and insects: Which alternative proteins will feed the world?

The quest for alternatives to animal-derived proteins has led to a huge amount of...

Food firms should prepare for pre-recession spending

Prepare for pre-recession spend – top economist

Food manufacturers should prepare for a positive three years ahead, as the changing economy...

Creepy proteins will be hot

New proteins are creeping on trend

Alternative proteins are a “hot area” of interest and products such as sandwich spreads...

Salt reduction not a priority for UK consumers: LoSalt survey

Salt reduction not a priority for UK consumers, finds LoSalt survey

Caroline Klinge

sales and marketing manager, LoSalt

‘Nice wine, no corkscrew?’ Mirabeau En Provence wins 8m+ YouTube views

‘Nice wine, no corkscrew?’ Mirabeau En Provence solution strikes YouTube gold with 8 million+ views

Mirabeau En Provence owner Stephen Cronk says the desire for a direct consumer connection...

DSM claims craft brewer interest in gluten-free beer enzyme

DSM claims craft brewer interest in gluten-free beer enzyme

DSM Food Specialities claims that, far from being cautious, craft brewers are embracing the...

Smoothie brand Froosh warns of ‘social washing’ within supply chain

Smoothie brand Froosh warns of ‘social washing’ on supply chain sustainability

Scandinavia’s top-selling smoothie manufacturer Froosh has called for ‘trade not aid’ in developing countries...

Saturated fat guidelines out, food guidelines in?

Get rid of nutrients and focus on foods in guidelines, says sat fat researcher

Benoit Lamarche

Saturated fat researcher, Laval University

EU referendum: vote to stay, says Greencore boss

Four reasons to stay in the EU: Greencore boss

Four factors explain why the food and drink industry would be much better off...

Smart combinations: Juices blend fruit and vegetable ingredients for nutritional punch and flavor appeal

Smart combinations: Juices blend fruit and vegetable ingredients for nutritional punch and flavor appeal

Vegetable ingredients may boost the nutritional content of beverages: but when it comes to...

Refreshment and nutrition drive demand for vegetable ingredients

Refreshment and nutrition drive demand for vegetable ingredients

Vegetable ingredients are winning favor with consumers who value them as a healthy part...

Marketing to the ‘elderly'

Marketing to the ‘elderly’: Overcoming the taboo of getting old

There is a need for public health strategies and products to address Europe's rapidly...

What opportunities does the backlash against sugar create?

What opportunities does the backlash against sugar create?

From links with obesity and type 2 diabetes to government taxes, sugar is currently...

Eat with your eyes: Making sense of multi-sensory food

Eat with your eyes: Making sense of multi-sensory food

Food should taste and smell good but what else should and can it do...

The 4 biggest mistakes in healthy marketing

The 4 biggest mistakes in healthy marketing

The Healthy Marketing Team tells us what NOT to do when marketing a healthy...

How the food industry can boost consumer health

Three changes food industry must make to boost health

Food and drink manufacturers must make three changes across their businesses to help boost...

Food industry new starters offered top tip

Food business starters should be hungry for knowledge

Young people starting their food business careers should hungry for knowledge about the roles...

Key Industry Events