A European Union committee approved more than 200 health claims for use on food products, which could offer a competitive advantage to companies seeking to target health-conscious EU consumers.
The final list was whittled down from over 2,500 applications, and included the claim that sugar-free chewing gum can help neutralise plaque acids, which promote dental cavities, and that products containing calcium promote normal bone growth in children.
Rejected applications included the claim that Ferrero's Kinder Chocolate helps children grow, and that drinking black tea helps to focus the attention.
"Consumers have the right to accurate and reliable information on food labels to help them make healthier choices," EU consumer chief John Dalli said in a statement. "When it comes to health claims, ensuring that they are truthful and accurate is of particular importance."
The final list of health claims must now be approved by EU governments and lawmakers before being formally adopted early next year, after which companies will have six months to remove any rejected claims from their products.
Some 2,000 health claims are still awaiting assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), while all health claims for plant and herbal substances are currently on hold.
(Reuters Health, December 2011)