EFSA chief: many dossiers in new batch of article 13.1 opinions "insufficient"

By Shane Starling in Brussels

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health claims, European commission, European union

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) executive director, Catherine Geslain- Lanéelle, has told the Nutrition and Lifestyle conference in Brussels this morning that many of Thursday’s article 13.1 opinions have "insufficient evidence".

"Outcomes will show insufficient evidence in many cases,"​ she said.

In a presentation and responding to questions from the audience, she said evidence may be drawn from patient studies to back general health claims and that an addendum of 500-1000 health claims was likely to be added to the article 13.1 list.

She added that EFSA's budget was well-supported, that national food standards agencies would continue to be included in EFSA decision-making, and that it was possible to complete work on the article 13.1 list by the end of 2011, although the size of the addendum may determine this.

Geslain- Lanéelle said a host of article 14 claims that remained in the system but in a "not registered"​ status, had been that way for up to two years in some cases, because information had been requested but had not as yet been forthcoming, along with a backlog of work.

On such a long timeframe to process claims she stated:

"We are now processing on average 700-1000 applications per year, not just in health claims - much more than we ever expected. But if the data is not there then we will eventually consider it not possible to evaluate. We have requested additional information in some cases."

DG Sanco head Basil Mathioudakis fielded one question from the floor about a timetable for novel foods reform, saying the amendment had stalled in the European Parliament and European Council, where discussions about cloned animals and nano materials had presented, "a legal tangle at the moment"​.

He said a European Commission report on cloning was due in a year, but could not foresee a date when novel foods rules may be finalised.

Mathioudakis added that the EC was comitting to adopting rejected or approved health claims in batches - just as EFSA is doing, with the first batch due this year.

"This will remove from the market those claims that are not substantiated,"​ Mathioudakis said. "We do not consider it appropriate to leave them on the market until all the claims are evaluated by EFSA."

EFSA opinions indicating "insufficient evidence"​ will be sent to member states for further consideration.

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