European Food Watchdog Slashes Dubious Health Claims

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Science  05 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5970, pp. 1189
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5970.1189

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Europe's food safety watchdog on 25 February issued a scientific mass-verdict on more than 400 so-called health claims, the promises that food producers make on their labels and in advertisements, rejecting purported health benefits of a raft of substances. The decisions are the latest installment in a gargantuan and controversial effort by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to validate more than 4000 health claims used by the food industry across the continent. So far, the agency has rejected more than 80% of those it has looked at, and the food industry may eventually have to stop using those claims. Some hail the process, required by European Union legislation passed in 2006, as a timely new way to protect European consumers. But many in the food industry and some academic researchers say that EFSA has put the scientific bar so high that it may stifle food research in the long run.