On Dec. 5, the European Commission rubber-stamped 222 health claims that will form the basis of an EU general list of approved structure-function claims that can be used by any company meeting the conditions of use. The list will now go forward to be debated by the European Parliament, which has 90 days to scrutinize the list before voting to accept or reject it.

So begins a period of lobbying by the industry, which continues to be highly concerned by the fact that—as the 222 approved claims become officially legal—2,000+ rejected claims will be banned. It is argued that the standard of evidence required in support of claims is too high, making it almost impossible to obtain approval.

Among those calling for the Parliament to reject the Commission’s proposed heath claims list is the Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH), a pro-natural health campaign group.

Robert Verkerk, executive and scientific director of ANH, said: “Ensuring consumers are not given false and misleading claims, the key objective of the regulation, is laudable. But removing the majority of claims, some 92 percent of those evaluated, on the basis of scientific methods that are derived from a pharmaceutical rather than nutritional science model is simply madness.”

He continued: “With so few claims authorized—and unauthorized claims banned—European consumers will be thrown into an information-free void in which they will find it much harder to discriminate between healthy and less healthy foods."