Ireland urges industry to co-operate with health claim discussions

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Ireland's food safety regulator has urged the nation's food
industry to be more involved with the EU health claims process to
make the most of the opportunities it offers.

"The new regulation… will allow food manufacturers and producers to use these scientifically substantiated claims across the EU as marketing tools. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the food industry to co-operate with us on the process,"​ said Mary Flynn, chief specialist in public health nutrition, Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). "We expect all relevant food business operators will engage with the approval process over the coming months,"​ she added. The health and nutrition claims regulation entered into force in January. Although much of the detail still needs to be hammered out, some claims, such as those relating to children, will not be permitted as of July 1 pending approval at EU level. The new legislation is intended to create a level playing field for claims made on foods throughout the EU, while at the same time ensuring that consumers are not mislead. Since science is increasingly recognised as a foundation for health and functional foods, a number of companies have express their approval that the legislation is to take effect. One outcome is that it will separate those companies with strong evidence to support their products from those making nebulous or unsubstantiated claims. However some industry groups fear that it could be detrimental to the interests of small and medium enterprises, many of which are at the driving edge of innovation, since they do not have the resources to compile expensive dossiers. "The FSAI is now calling on food business operators to make submissions to the FSAI regarding health claims which appear in Ireland on their food products or on any related advertising. The FSAI will develop a national list of health claims, which meet the conditions of the Regulation and are accompanied by scientific evidence of effectiveness,"​ said the authority. FSAI will submit the final list will be submitted to the European Commission by 31st January 2008. The list of claims will then be submitted to the commission for consideration, which could take up to two years, and then claims on the final EU list will be allowed on food products from 31st January 2010 onwards. "Food business operators should submit their claims to the FSAI along with all required information and scientific data via an online application form on before the closing date of 28th September 2007,"​ stated the authority.

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