Botanicals: EU regulation a ‘hot topic and legal disaster area’, suggests expert

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Botanicals: EU regulation a ‘hot topic and legal disaster area’, suggests expert
According to a survey by the organisers of Vitafoods Europe, one in three (33%) of industry professionals asks said the current EU regulatory framework is ‘unhelpful’.

This is up from 25% at the start of 2017, say the Vitafoods Europe team. Meanwhile, 34% say they find the framework helpful (though this has dropped from 37% last year).

Dr Annegret Nielsen, Senior Consultant at analyze & realize, told the survey that this dissatisfaction has risen because of the EU’s tough stance on health claims and the continuing regulatory deadlock on botanicals.

He says: “The increasing frustration is not surprising. Despite progress in some areas, the regulatory challenges for the industry have remained, or even increased, over the past year. It is currently very hard for companies to develop innovative products that comply​.”

Botanical bottleneck

A particular area of concern is the current deadlock on the regulation of botanicals, explain the Vitafoods Europe team.

It says that thousands of botanical health claims have been on hold for several years while EFSA considers how to evaluate them.

The regulation of botanicals is a hot topic and a legal disaster area​,” said Dr Elinor McCartney, President, Pen & Tec Consulting Group.

The EC and member states seem unable to agree on how to sort out the anomaly that health claims are allowed on traditional herbal remedies, but the same claims are prohibited on food botanicals unless a dossier passes EFSA.​”

One solution that has been proposed is sector-specific regulation for botanicals: a fifth (19%) of respondents to the Vitafoods Europe survey said this was the policy change that would most benefit their business.

The issue is a hot topic set to be discussed at the upcoming Vitafoods Europe​ trade show in May, in Geneva, Switzerland.

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