EHCA calls for reassessment of controversial claims process

The European Health Claims Alliance (EHCA) has written to the President of the European Parliament MEP Martin Schulz, calling for a re-evaluation of the process for assessing general function claims (13.1 claims).

It follows last week’s vote on the objection to the list of permitted health claims in the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee where 37 members voted against and 22 members voted in favour of the objection.

The letter, which raises the same concerns as voiced by the MEPs, has already received over 300 signatures from individual companies across 21 Member States since its launch in mid February and is still gathering more.

EHCA, an alliance of companies from across different sectors of the food and nutrition industry with mutual concerns about the claims regulation, argues that the current implementation of Articles 13.1-13.3 of the regulation is inappropriate and disproportionate to the aims that it was created to achieve.

In the letter, EHCA states that requests for a more proportionate application of the regulation’s Article 13. 1 have been “consistently ignored” and argue that the regulation is now set to fail on all of its main objectives relating to consumer protection, legal certainty, protection of SMEs, innovation in the sector, and fair competition.

EHCA spokesperson Patrice Michelang commented: “The consequence of the way in which the regulation is being implemented could be damaging to consumers and to the sector, with a potential decrease in retail sales of over one billion euros and a commensurate loss of jobs. The regulation’s terms of reference have explicit instructions, however these provisions for a more proportionate application of the Regulation’s Article 13.1 has been consistently ignored, despite the fact that the European Parliament itself fought to have it included during the negotiations when this regulation was adopted.”

“In our letter we call on the European Parliament to ask the European Commission to re-consider claims that have been given unfavourable opinions; to give clear instructions to re-evaluate the claims the way that was originally intended by the regulation, and to avoid unjustly devastating a sector because of an inappropriate approach.”