Almost 200 representatives of the food sector to the Health Claims Seminar

12.12.2006

<div>The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira organises a Health Claims Seminar on Monday 11 December 2006. The seminar presents the current health claims in Finland and discusses the use of claims in the future. The theme is current, because the EU regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims is expected to enter into force at the beginning of next year. This year, Evira has prepared for the challenges posed by the regulation by compiling information on the claims used in Finland and the condition of their use from different operators. The survey was funded by the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry. The seminar presents the preliminary results of the survey and the comments of enterprises, authorities and researchers in the field, as well as consumers, regarding the situation.</div>

As the EU Health and Nutrition Claims Regulation enters into force, the research evidence and acceptability of all health claims will be evaluated at the community level. Only claims approved of in evaluation and included in the Commission’s register may be used after the transition periods have expired. The regulation requires all member states to provide the Commission with a list of certain generally acceptable health claims that are well understood by the average consumers about one year after the regulation has entered into force. Health claims are widely used in Finland, but there are no national lists of the claims. For this reason, Evira has collected information on health claims using the questionnaire on its Internet pages. A total of 625 questionnaires were returned by the deadline. Preliminary results of the replies can be found on Evira’s Internet pages and they will be discussed in the seminar held on 11 December 2006. The final report will be submitted to the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry by the end of January 2007.

The preliminary results show that health claims were made in relation to a total of 269 different compounds, foodstuffs and ingredient combinations. Most claims were connected with cardiovascular health, carbohydrate metabolism and weight control, and gut health and immunity. Approximately one fifth of those whom replied had had their own product studied. Over half of those whom replied stated that there were studies made to other corresponding foodstuffs. Two thirds stated that there is other evidence to support the claim made of foodstuff or foodstuffs group such as studies performed on the ingredients. About half also considered that their claim was based on general knowledge available in e.g. textbooks.

The member countries’ proposals for acceptable claims and the relevant scientific justification will be sent to the Commission at the beginning of 2008. The European Food Safety Authority evaluates the scientific evidence of the claims, and the Commission will publish a list of approved claims and the conditions for their use within three years after the the regulation has entered force.

Seminar programme (in Finnish): http://www.evira.fi/attachments/tapahtumat/terveysvaiteseminaarin_ohjelma.doc

Preliminary results of the survey (in Finnish): http://www.evira.fi/portal/fi/elintarvikkeet/valvonta_ja_yritt__j__t/terveysvaitteet/

Further information:
Health claim survey: Ms. Sirpa Sarlio-Lähteenkorva, Evira, tel. +358 (0)50 386 8430
Ms. Kaisa Vaihia, Evira, tel. +358 (0)20 77 24295 or +358 (0)50 434 2203, etunimi.sukunimi@evira.fi

EU Health and Nutrition Claims Regulation: Ms. Anne Haikonen, Ministry of Trade and Industry, tel. +358 (0)9 1606 3654, firstname.surname@ktm.fi

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