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More EFSA health opinions – many losers but several winners

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published 536 health claims in 73 opinions in the fifth batch of general function claims. There were several any positive opinions, but as expected, many more negative in the latest batch. Probiotic claims continued to be rejected and a number of others will be a huge blow to the sports market…

Positive opinions were handed to:

  • dietary fibres and blood cholesterol;
  • cereal fibre and bowel function;
  • carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks and endurance performance;
  • low sodium and blood pressure;
  • dietary fibre and blood glucose;
  • melatonin and sleep;
  • very low calorie diets and body weight.

Of the rejections, EFSA said, “they were not sufficiently specific, such as claims on “women’s health” or “mental energy”, or that they referred to food categories which were considered to be too broad, such as “fruits and vegetables”, “dairy products”, to be linked to specific effects.”

“Other claims were unfavourably assessed because they were not supported by any relevant studies in humans. Such studies are central to the establishment of a cause and effect relationship between the food or substance concerned and the beneficial health effect claimed.”

EFSA has now assessed 2723 article 13, general function health claims, and has just 35 remaining, to be published in a mini-batch 6 in July this year.


  • Oat and barley grain fibre increases faecal bulk (in “high fibre” foods).
  • Rye fibre benefits bowel function (in “high fibre” foods).
  • Beta-glucans from oats and barley reduce post-prandial glycaemic responses when 4g of beta-glucans from oats or barley are consumed for each 30 g of available carbohydrate. Previous cholesterol opinion affirmed.
  • Reduced dietary sodium intake helps maintain normal blood pressure.
  • Very low calorie diets (VLCDs) can reduce body weight among obese adults in compliance with the specifications and conditions of use laid down in CODEX STAN 203-1995.
  • Glycaemic carbohydrates help maintain normal brain function if 130g consumed daily.
  • Sodium maintains normal muscle function but claim not approved because deficiencies leading to impaired muscle function in EU populations not demonstrated.
  • Dietary intake of fats helps normal absorption of fat-soluble vitamins but claim not approved due to absence of fat deficiency in EU diets.
  • Carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions enhance water absorption during exercise and maintain endurance performance (when drink contains 80-350kcal/L from carbohydrates, at least 75% of the energy from high-GI carbohydrates and 20-50mmol/L sodium).
  • Reduced lactose food content may help decrease gastro-intestinal discomfort caused by lactose intake in lactose intolerant individuals.
  • Melatonin helps sleep if 1mg consumed close to bedtime.
  • Chitosan can help maintain normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations if 3g consumed daily.
  • Arabinoxylan produced from wheat endosperm can reduce post-prandial glycaemic responses if 8g of arabinoxylan-rich fibre consumed per day.
  • Fructose when replacing sucrose or glucose in foods or beverages can reduce post-prandial glycaemic responses.

Some key losers:

  • Proanthocyanidins (PACs) from cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton) deemed ‘insufficiently’ backed as defence against bacterial pathogens in the lower urinary tract. Gum and heart claims deemed to general for NHCR.
  • Xanthan gum does not benefit bowel function.
  • Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate monohydrate (HMB) alone or in combination with alpha-ketoisocaproic acid (KIC) does not reduce muscle tissue damage during exercise; does not increase lean body mass, muscle strength, endurance performance, skeletal muscle tissue repair or speed recovery from muscle fatigue after exercise.
  • Fructo-oligosaccharides do not decrease potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms.
  • Beta-glucans from oats and barley do not provide a sustained increase in satiety leading to a reduction in energy intake.
  • L-glutamine does not benefit a range of cognitive, gut, immune, muscular and energy conditions.
  • L-carnitine does not aid faster recovery from muscle fatigue after exercise; does not assist skeletal muscle tissue repair, increase endurance capacity, maintain normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations, contribute to normal spermatogenesis, increase L-carnitine concentrations and/or decrease free fatty acids in blood during pregnancy.
  • Casein protein hydrolysates do not aid growth or maintenance of muscle mass, increase endurance performance or speed recovery from muscle fatigue after exercise.
  • Replacing sugars with intense sweeteners does not contribute to the maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight or normal blood glucose concentrations.

EFSA – read the 73 opinions here Read more

EFSA delivers sports market blow: Consultant

The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) rejection of health claims for sports nutrients like L-carnitine, acetyl of L-carnitine, glutamine or tyrosine may have a devastating effect on the European market, warns French consultancy, Nutraveris. The opinions, “would make us think that they might put an end to the existence of sport foods” said CEO Cedric Bourges…. read more

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