PlantLIBRA, Prof. Silano wishes success to the PlantLIBRA Brasov meeting

Prof. Silano, chairman of EFSA’s Scientific Committee and of PlantLIBRA’s Scientifi Advisory Board, has asked us to share a message with PlantLIBRA partners (he will not be able to attend the meeting):

I would be very grateful if you could express to all our colleagues participating in the PlantLIBRA meeting in Brasov, my sincere regrets for not being able to participate. I hoped to help develop the project in a concrete way and help avoid some pitfalls to the project. In any case, my wish is that everything goes well, considering that this project is unique in its nature and also represents a significant success for those who have put forward the proposal. Furthermore, the results of this project will not fail to provide long-waited responses with substantial benefits for consumers of food supplements with botanicals.

[translated from Italian]

The PlantLIBRA Management Team

Low glycaemic “properties” claims: EFSA brings new hope

Low glycemic “properties” are an industry’s favorite when it comes to sports nutrition, particularly for bars. Though such claims are rather carelessly used in some EU countries, with little official scrutiny, there was concern that claims such as those would not be allowed under Reg. 1924/2006 or would fall outside its scope and hence in a limbo of regulatory uncertainty.

Although the recent batch of EFSA opinions on health claims resulted in several sadly negative opinions, sugar replacers such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, lactitol, isomalt, erythritol, D-tagatose, isomaltulose, sucralose and polydextrose came out as clear winners. EFSA’s NDA panel declared that “a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of foods/drinks containing xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, lactitol, isomalt, erythritol, D-tagatose, isomaltulose, sucralose or polydextrose instead of sugar and reduction in post-prandial blood glucose responses (without disproportionally increasing post-prandial insulinaemic responses) as compared to sugar-containing foods/drinks“.

The Panel was apparently convinced that the Regulation’s restrictions on comparative claims as well as art. 3 (“...the use of nutrition and health claims shall not….give rise to doubt about the safety and/or the nutritional adequacy of other foods“, with sugar possibly the loser in this case) did not present a problem, although this may come back at the enforcement level in Member States.

In practice, while the immediate implications of this EFSA opinion vary in different Member States, there is a clear possibility of making “low glycemic” claims on food supplements (e.g., protein with sucralose) and bars with polyols (news which will make many happy).

However, the conditions set by the Panel deserve a careful analysis before using the claims.

– Sports Nutrition Team –

NB: Stevia, which, at the moment, is not allowed anyway, is not in the list.

EFSA: caffeine for sports ok, but not for weight loss

The 8 of April 2011 EFSA’s NDA Panel has published the outcome of the evaluations of a fourth series of ‘general function’ health claims proposed for use on food products.

Only few opinions are positive for sports nutrition. Among these 442 health claims, the most relevant are related to caffeine; in particular  health claims such as ‘Increased alertness’ , ‘ increased attention’, ‘increase in endurance performance’, ‘increase in endurance capacity’, ‘reduction in the rated perceived exertion/effort during exercise’ are now accepted for caffeine. Other positive outcomes are related to resistant maltodextrins ( ‘Changes in bowel function’), Choline (‘ Contribution to normal lipid metabolism ‘) and olive poliphenols  ( ‘Hydroxytyrosol protects LDL particles from oxidative damage’).

Instead most EFSA opinions are negative. It should be noted that all the health claims on ‘reduction of body weight’ related to caffeine and green tea have been rejected. Other negative outcomes are related to several aminoacids such as  L-Arginine, Lysine, Tryptophan and aminoacidic derivatives such as Taurine and Carnosine, particularly interesting are the rejected health claims concerning  ‘management of body mass’  and “improvement of endothelium-dependent vasodilation’ (Arginine),  ‘Contribution to normal protein synthesis’ (Lysine), ‘Maintenance of normal muscle function’ (Taurin). Also Quercetin, Lutein, Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA), FOS and PUFAs DHA/EPA (Omega 3) received general negative opinions from the Panel.

“The positive opinion on caffeine is important specifically for the benefits which EFSA has recognized within the domain of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, and the standard that it sets.” commented Luca Bucchini, managing director of Hylobates “Though EFSA’s opinions are important when thinking to new products, they should not be the only driving force. EFSA’s processs is welcome when compared to the less than transparent situation in several EU countries; at the same time, it should be noted that EFSA’s approach has been less than consistent between micronutrients and other substances. It is time for the sports nutrition industry to think carefully about the future.”

– Armand and Jacopo, Sport Nutrition Team –

EFSA: la caffeina per lo sport funziona, altre sostanze no

In data odierna il gruppo di esperti dell’EFSA ha pubblicato i risultati della valutazione di 442 claim sulla salute proposti per l’uso nei prodotti alimentari.

Solo poche opinioni possono essere considerate positive nel campo della nutrizione sportiva,  in particolare sono stati accettati claim relativi al consumo di caffeina e aumento dello stato di allerta/attenzione, diminuzione della percezione dello sforzo durante l’esercizio fisico ed aumento della capacità in esercizi fisici di resistenza. Gli esperti dell’EFSA hanno dato inoltre parere positivo per il claim relativo alle maltodestrine resistenti affermando che c’è una relazione di causa effetto tra il consumo di questi carboidrati e il miglioramento della funzionalità intestinale. Altri esiti positivi sono riscontrabili per claim relativi alla Colina (‘contribuisce al normale metabolismo lipidico’) e ai polifenoli dell’ulivo (‘Idrossitirosolo protegge le LDL dal danno ossidativo’).

Gran parte dei claim valutati sono stati respinti, tra cui i principali relativi al consumo di caffeina e tè verde che riguardano ‘mantenimento e controllo del peso corporeo’ non potranno più essere utilizzati per prodotti ed integratori alimentari, a meno che il processo a livello comunitario abbia un esito diverso e solo quando i pareri diventeranno legge, con lo specifico regolamento di attuazione. Nessun parere positivo per quel che riguarda i claim  sugli aminoacidi come arginina, lisina, triptofano e derivati aminoacidici quali taurina, carnosina: infatti i principali claim sulla massa muscolare, attività di tipo tonico e vasodilatazione sono stati bocciati.Numerosi altri claim sono stati valutati e bocciati, in particolare molti relativi a Quercetina, Luteina, Acido Alfa Linoleico (ALA), FOS e i PUPA DHA/EPA (Omega 3) generalmente per carenza di dati sufficienti.

“Non bisogna dimenticare che EFSA ha ampiamente riconosciuto i benefici di vitamina e minerali che sono i tipici principi degli integratori alimentari, anche per lo sport (come per vitamina C e sistema immunitario dello sportivo)” ha commentato Luca Bucchini, direttore gestionale di Hylobates “Per le altre sostanze ha usato uno standard di prova molto diverso e a volte discutibile, anche se riteniamo un processo trasparente e scientificamente qualificato come quello di EFSA sia importante e necessario. Il riconoscimento per la caffeina è importante ed univoco; sarà importante bilanciare l’effetto positivo dei pareri EFSA con la necessità di portare sul mercato prodotti equilibrati, indirizzando attentamente la ricerca. Su un piano più squisitamente tecnico è importante, che con l’opinione sulla caffeina, EFSA ha confermato la possibilità di claim sulla salute nel quadro del Regolamento 1924/2006 riferiti ad attività sportive”.

Le indicazioni fornite dal Ministero della Salute sul proprio sito, fino all’entrata in vigore di un regolamento applicativo (atteso per metà 2012), restano permesse.

– Armando e Jacopo, Sport Nutrition Team –

Aggiornato alle ore 18:03 dell’8/4 con riferimento al Ministero Salute


Quercetin, a member of the flavonoids family, is one of the most important dietary antioxidants. It is widely present in foods including vegetables, fruit, tea and wine and is claimed to exert beneficial health effects.

Especially the ability of Quercetin to scavenge highly reactive species such as peroxynitrite and the hydroxyl radical probably has beneficial health effects.

At Arnold, we saw a complete product line based on fortification with quercetin, with energy drinks, soft chews, liquid concentrates and powder drinks.

On April 8 2011 EFSA published a new opinion concerning quercetin, rejecting the health claim ‘ Quercetin contributes to the protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage’, concluding that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of quercetin and protection of DNA, proteins or lipids from oxidative damage. This makes quercetin less attractive as a food supplement ingredient.  (Updated 11/04/2011 with EFSA opinion)

– Armando, Sport Nutrition Team –

Astaxanthin: a new remedy against oxidative stress in muscle?

Astaxanthin is a natural pigment content in algae Haematococcus pluvialis, which might have some good antioxidant properties. In this regard, the scientific community is not unanimous: some studies (e.g., Aoi et al, 2007) put the focus on a potential antioxidant effect which has a positive impact on muscle health; on the other hand other studies (Bloomer et al, 2005) suggest that astaxanthin supplementation does not benefit the muscle, because it does not reduce the risk of muscle damage.

The Italian Health Ministry accepts that astaxanthin has antioxidant properties and does not place restrictions on its use; but at European level, EFSA gave a negative opinion concerning a number of health claims for astxanthin including maintenance of normal joints, tendons or connective tissue, and protection of DNA, proteins or lipids from oxidative damage.
Use of the substance in sports nutrition may be increasing: recently, GNC has used astaxanthin with β-alanine, to create a blend named ‘Muscle Buffering System ‘, included in formulations of the new line of products ‘GNC Beyond Raw’.
Use of astaxanthin in the formulation of products should be carefully evaluated.

– Armando, Sport Nutrition Team

AGCM italiana alla Commissione Europea: non basta il Regolamento Claim, c’è bisogno di linee guida Europee.

L’autorità italiana per la pubblicità ingannevole, che è anche la società antitrust ha scritto alla Commissione Europea per discutere la tematica legata al regolamento sull’utilizzo dei claim sulla salute negli alimenti. La suddetta lettera non è stata resa pubblica.

Attualmente l’utilizzo dei claim sulla salute è consentito in base alle rigide condizioni del regolamento1924/2006, che coinvolge le valutazioni scientifiche da parte dell’Autorità Europea sulla Sicurezza Alimentare. L’ AGCM è convinta che il 1924/2006 non sia sufficiente e chiede delle linee guida a livello Europeo per le aziende, con l’obiettivo di assicurare un’informazione accurata e completa per i consumatori. Secondo l’AGCM, i claim sulla salute relativi a prodotti alimentari, già approvati dalla Commissione inseguito al parere scientifico EFSA, possono essere utilizzati in maniera strumentale dalle aziende.

I claim sulla salute- dice il presidente dell’AGCM in un comunicato stampa– utilizzati negli spot, alcune volte tendono ad enfatizzare la patologia o a banalizzare il problema di salute; tali claim non forniscono una corretta informazione ai consumatori, piuttosto esagerano nell’enfatizzare l’efficacia dei prodotti. L’AGCM ricorda che anche in presenza di claim sulla salute autorizzati dalla Commissione Europea, l’ EU richiede che l’uso di tali claim nutrizionali e sulla salute, non possa risultare ‘falso, ambiguo e ingannevole’. Questo è ciò che spesso accade , sempre secondo AGCM, a causa dell’uso improprio sia di testi che di immagini da parte delle aziende.

E’ fondamentale che i consumatori siano al riparo da pubblicità ingannevoli’ dice Luca Bucchini, amministratore delegato di Hylobates Consulting, che dichiara ‘ Il Regolamento sui claim nutrizionali esulla salute risulta rigoroso e completo in tutti i suoi requisiti, oltre ad essere sempre stato applicato inmaniera molto puntigliosa da EFSA. Esso crea una struttura che protegge i consumatori e reca un alto livello di sicurezza al business alimentare, che prima non esisteva. Di conseguenza, siamo convinti del fatto che ulteriori linee guida potrebbero solo creare più confusione e non diminuirla come si aspetta AGCM– continua Bucchini – La valutazione dei claim deve essere basata sui dati scientifici disponibili; il regolamento ha messo in chiaro che i benefici di una sostanza possono essere rivendicati per gli alimenti, e che in base a regole chiare, una sostanza o un alimento può portare uno specifico claim relativo a un benefit che altri prodotti alimentari presenti nella dieta non hanno. Ci auguriamo che AGCM accetti questi ed altri principi scientifici e legali consolidati e che possa lavorare attenendosi alla struttura legale attualmente vigente.

Italy’s AGCM to EC: Claims Regulation not enough, European guidelines for health claims in foods needed

The Italian authority for misleading advertising, which is also the antitrust authority wrote to European Commission to bring about a discussion about the regulation for the use of health claims in foodstuffs. The letter itself has not been made public.
At present the use of any health claim is allowed under the stringent conditions of Regulation 1924/2006, which involve the European Food Safety Authority‘s scientific assessment. AGCM believes that this is not sufficient and asks guidelines at European level for companies to ensure accurate and complete information to consumers.
According to AGCM, health claims related to food products, already approved by the Commission after EFSA’s scientific examination, can be used in an instrumental way by companies. Health claims- says the president of AGCM in a press release used in advertising sometimes tend to emphasize disease or to trivialize health problems; they do not provide correct information to consumers but rather exaggerate the effectiveness of the products.
AGCM also reminds that even in the presence of health-claim authorized by the European Commission, EU legislation requires that the use of nutrition and health claims “cannot be false, ambiguous or misleading”. This is what often happens, according to the AGCM, due to the improper use of both text and images by companies.

“It is imperative that consumers are protected from misleading advertising.” said Luca Bucchini, Managing Director of Hylobates Consulting, in a statement “The Nutrient and Health Claims Regulation is stringent and comprehensive in its requirements, and has been applied in a very stringent manner by EFSA. It creates a framework which protects consumers and provides a degree of certainty to food businesses, which did not exist before. As a consequence, we are concerned that further guidelines may create more, not less, confusion – continued Bucchini –  Evaluation of claims should be science-based; the Regulation has clarified that benefits of a substance can be claimed for a food, and that, within clear rules, a substance or food can claim a specific benefit that other foods in the diet don’t have. We hope that AGCM will accept these and other well-established scientific and legal principles and will work within the existing legal framework”

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