EFSA is the European Food Safety Authority set up in 2002; a European agency funded by the European Union that operates independently of the European legislative and executive institutions and EU member States.
The mission of EFSA is to provide the basis for the assurance of a high level of protection of human health and consumer interest in relation to food, considering the diversity in the supply of food, including traditional products, while ensuring the affecting functioning of the internal market.
EFSA was set up in 2002 following a food crisis in 1998 to become a source hub for scientific advice and communication on the risks and cautions associated with the food chain. The fully established agency was then created by the EU under the General Food Law Regulation 178/2002.
EFSA has established rules and regulations to help ensure that food supplements are safe and properly labelled. In the EU, food supplements are regulated as foods and the legislation focuses on vitamins and minerals used as ingredients of food supplements.
Nutrition and health claims
EFSA created a set of rules based on nutrition and health claims that have been established since July 2007. This regulation is the legal framework used by food business operators when they want to highlight the beneficial effects of their products, in relation to health and nutrition, on the product label or in its advertising. The rules of the regulation apply to nutritional claims such as high fibre, high in vitamin c, low in fat, and to health claims such as Vitamin B complex is necessary for the normal release of energy from food. The objective of these rules is to ensure that any claim made on a food supplements’ label and advertising within Europe is clear, accurate and has clinically proven or scientific evidence.
A health claim is any statement about a relationship between food and health. EFSA authorises health claims providing they are backed with scientific evidence and are easily understood by consumers.
Types of health claims:
- “function health” claims relating to the growth, development and functions of the body, referring to psychological or behavioural functions or on slimming or weight control
- “risk reduction” claims, such as lowering cholesterol or heart disease
Types of Nutritional claims:
- The amount of energy it can provide or help to provide
- The nutrients it contains or does not contain such as no added sugar, fat-free, high fibre.
Any health and nutrition claims that could mislead the end consumer are prohibited within the EU market. This ensures that consumers are protected from misleading information, but fair competition and innovation is grown. A “public EU register of nutrition and health claims” list is readily available with a list of all permitted nutritional claims and all authorised health and non-health claims by EFSA. This can be used as a source of reference and so full transparency for both food business owners and consumers are ensured.