MEPs to vote on list of permitted health claims made on foods - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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MEPs to vote on list of permitted health claims made on foods

Sunday, 18 March 2012
Next week in Brussels, MEPs in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) will get to vote on one particular dossier that is causing two of our MEPs some discomfort: the list of permitted Article 13.1 health claims made on foods.

South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling, a member of the ENVI Committee, is proposing a ‘middle way’ to qualm the
furore over the European health claims list of an initial 222 claims. The list is intended to assure EU consumers that all health claims promoted on the EU market are substantiated by science and are not misleading, but some of the claims on the list have raised eyebrows.

Mrs Girling, while not denying the current system must be relooked at, wants her fellow MEPs to back the existing work of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Commission in next week’s vote
(on Wednesday 21st) and then carry out its own impact assessment on the process.

I think we should approve the claims that have been approved,she told the website “I see no value at all in throwing claims out because then we are back to square one […] Pass this first lot of claims and then do an impact assessment on the whole process so far and see where that takes us, because I think that might take us to having a slightly revised regulation.

But South West MEP Sir Graham Watson is more hardened against the regulation and the scientific processes that are used to verify the health claims, and would rather see it amended before it is adopted and comes into effect. His objection stems from the decision of EFSA to rule "insufficient evidence" in the case of laxative effects of prunes (PDF). In December he issued a prune-eating challenge to the Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner John Dalli in protest of EFSA's ruling.

However, at an event held by Mrs Girling in Brussels on 7th March, Professor Albert Flynn, Chair of EFSA's Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies, said the agency was set to complete a re-evaluation of about 90 probiotic dossiers by year's end, including the prune dossier.

The initial submission had two key studies. One showed an effect, the other didn’t. There are now additional studies and it is under assessment by EFSA,he said.

The Parliament’s vote is however likely to adopt of the current list of 222 claims and reject 2000-or-so other claims, but the objections of some MEPs has meant the passage of this dossier has proven more difficult than previously expected.

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