Thursday, 28 July 2011

Eat carrots to see better! - authorized health claim or grandma's myth?

I wasn't aware until today that the European Commission was busy trying to sort out through many health claims (44,000 health claims were submitted for a review) made about food products, trying to find out which of them have scientific support and should therefore be authorized as valid health claims on the European market and which of them were misleading consumers. 
A health claim is any statement made about a relationship between food and health (e.g. "this chewing gum will let you lose weight", "if you eat this fish, you will be smarter", "if you drink this milk, you will grow taller"). 

The goal of the European Commission is to authorize these health claims that have scientific support AND can be easily understood by consumers, so that European consumers may easily know whether food products that claim to have beneficial impact on their health actually have such effect. This will hopefully lead to consumers choosing a healthier diet, when they are no longer misled by food producers' promises like e.g. cereals being the healthiest breakfast choice. EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) is the agency responsible for evaluating all health claims and with its cooperation the European Commission is aiming at presenting by the end of this year a list of permitted health claims on food products. This in order to finally enforce the Regulation 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods.

Everything you ever wanted to know about health claims - here.
Press release of the EC on progress on Claims Regulation - here.

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