54. The Committee recalled that, following the decision of its last session to reconsider the issue of health claims, the recommendations had been circulated for comments at Step 3, with a view to their ultimate inclusion in the Guidelines for Use of Nutrition Claims.
55. The Committee noted the following proposals for amendments to the text but recognized that there was no consensus to include them at this stage. The Delegation of Thailand proposed 1) to delete section 7.1 since it was considered as covering medicinal claims and not health claims; 2) that health claims should be defined as in section 7.2. The Delegation of Japan proposed to require that function claims for foods should be proven by human studies. The Delegation of Mexico proposed that health claims should be submitted for approval to the competent authorities in accordance with national requirements.
56. The Committee agreed to include the following amendments: a preamble concerning the need for health claims to be consistent with national nutrition policy, as proposed by the Delegation of Norway, in conformity with the Guidelines for Nutrition Claims, and a clarification of section 7.2.5 as proposed by the Delegation of Thailand.
57. Several delegations and the Observer from the EC pointed out that their national legislation did not allow the use of claims related to the prevention, cure and treatment of disease but that a large debate had been initiated on the relation between health and diet. Some delegations and the Observer from Consumers International indicated that they were not in favour of health claims in general; however, as these were found on the market, there was a need to consider this issue further from the point of view of consumer information and education in health and nutrition matters. The Committee noted that the scientific basis of health claims should be considered in more detail and that it would be useful to refer this matter for advice to the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses.
58. The Committee generally agreed that in any case health claims should not refer to one single food but should be placed in the context of the total diet, and that they should be substantiated by scientific evidence. The Delegation of Denmark suggested that examples A and B referring to single foods in the proposal be deleted. The Delegation of the United States pointed out that while the term "prevention" of disease might create some confusion, the claims allowed actually related to a reduction of the risk in a dietary context. The Delegation of South Africa indicated that it followed a similar approach to approve health claims.
59. The Observer from CIAA, supported by the Observers from ICGMA and IDF, expressed the view that health claims based on scientific evidence should be allowed as they would provide useful information for the consumer and facilitate innovation in the industry. The Observer from CSPI expressed the view that allowing health claims would not significantly improve consumer information as regards health and nutrition matters.
Status of the Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Use of Health Claims
60. The Committee, recognizing the need for further discussion of this issue, agreed to return the text to Step 3 for further comments and consideration at its next session, and to forward it for advice to the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses regarding the scientific basis for health claims (see Appendix X).