The European Commission (“Commission”) has announced its intention to restructure the process of Article 13 paragraph 1 claims of the Health Claims Regulation No 1924/2006 on 27 September 2010. The list of permitted claims will now be established in two steps. First, the list of permitted health claims for all substances other than so called “botanicals” will be adopted in a single step. EFSA opinions on all claims other than “botanicals” are expected to be finalised by the end of June 2011. Subsequently, the claims regarding the botanicals will be considered.

The EFSA is being asked to finalise its evaluation of all remaining claims, other than botanicals, by the end of June 2011 in order to allow the Commission to immediately follow-up with the necessary legislative measures. It can be expected that the Commission will stick to the six month transitional period of claims already in use in the market. In that case it would mean that any claims subject to Article 13 paragraph 1 of the Health Claims Regulation - notwithstanding whether they are permitted or rejected - may be used without alteration until January 2012.

Without moving completely away from the principle of the progressive adoption of the list, this announcement comes as a relief to the food industry. The new procedure of the progressive adoption increases legal certainty for operators and national enforcement authorities and reduces implementation burden.