Sebastián Romero Melchor writing in Food Chemical News (subscription required, alas) a few days ago points out that the market for functional foods in the European Union is growing. He advises U.S. firms who want to take advantage of its €40 billion (equal to roughly $54 billion USD) market to pay attention to some important facts:
- Novel ingredients: Ingredients that were not consumed to a significant extent in the EU before May 15, 1997 must undergo a costly and lengthy authorization procedure so dreadful that most companies give up and choose not to include them.
- Supplements: The European Commission has no problem with vitamins and minerals, but marketing of food supplements and fortified foods remains subject to each European country’s separate national laws. Products legally marketed and/or manufactured in a member-state can be legally marketed throughout the EU, provided that they are (a) safe, (b) not novel, and (3) not medicinal.
- Health claims: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued opinions on health claims for most substances. It has evaluted about 2,750 petitions for health claims but only approved about 600.
If only the FDA would take as rigorous a stance.