As ANH-Intl launches into the final week of lobbying for a veto of the ‘Community list’ of 222 approved health claims, two German professors have initiated a legal challenge seeking to have the entire Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR) “declared void”! How much more proof do Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) need that, as it stands, this is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation that needs to be consigned “to the bin”?

Water, water everywhere...

But there’s no point drinking the stuff, especially if you’re worried about dehydration. That, at least, was the conclusion of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA’s) Panel on Nutrition, Dietetic Products and Allergies (NDA) when it assessed an Article 14 ‘disease risk reduction’ health claim application for water in February last year. You may think that this is just a case of pointing and laughing at the ‘silly people’ from EFSA. But, if the European Commission had seen fit to add the claim to the rejected list on the EU Register, then it could not have legally been used on any product anywhere in the European Union (EU). Fortunately, this doesn’t appear to have happened yet, so national rules in the different Member States will still apply. Given that EFSA separately recommends generous daily intake levels of water, we trust that Member State competent authorities are wise to the hydration effects of water and will allow the claim.

To the European Courts of Justice!

The two professors who submitted the application have now declared a legal action that seeks to overturn the entire NHCR, on the grounds that it is ‘void’. The case, number T-17/12, will be heard in the General Court of the European Court of Justice.

By citing ‘non-proportionality’ and ‘breach of essential procedural requirements’, the two professors are using similar arguments to ANH-Intl. We can only wish the professors the best of luck with their case, and cross our fingers that the combination of legal action, public outcry, an official objection and vocal criticism from highly regarded Parliamentarians will persuade enough MEPs of the wisdom of vetoing the health claims list.


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