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European Food Safety Authority gives thumbs up for children’s health claims related to Vitamin D, Niacin and Biotin

Posted:  Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is a key organization of the European Union food safety, striving for food and feed safety, and consumer protection. It plays a key role in providing independent scientific advice and communication on existing and emerging risks associated with the food chain.

As of July 2015, the EFSA has approved three health claims on immune health and energy yielding metabolism for infants and young children (up to 3 years of age). These claims were previously approved for the general population and children aged 3 to 18 years. Specialised Nutrition Europe, a trade group, submitted proposals (to the Competent Authority of France) seeking permission to use these claims for children below 3 years of age.

The EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products and Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) were asked to provide a scientific opinion on the substantiation of these health claims. The 3 claims are based on health outcomes of the nutrients Vitamin D, Niacin and Biotin. They are categorised under health claims concerning children’s development and health.

The claimed effect approved for Vitamin D was: “Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system.” Based on the information provided, the Panel concluded that the claim is valid and considers it to be a beneficial physiological effect.

Likewise, the claimed effect for niacin and biotin was: “Niacin and Biotin contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism.” The Panel decided that the contributory role of niacin and biotin to normal energy-yielding metabolism applies to all ages, including infants and young children (from birth to three years).

The terms and conditions to be met by the 3 approved claims include adherence to the 2006 EU directive for use in follow-on formula, provision of 15% of the nutrient reference values when used for cereal-based foods for children or baby foods. In the case of nutritionally complete foods for special medical purposes intended for use by infants and nutritionally complete foods for special medical purposes other than those intended for use by infants the directive laid down for the same (1999/21/EC) must be complied with.

It is important for all to note that the EFSA has set the upper limit for vitamin D and free nicotinamide for infants is 25µg/d and 2mg/d respectively; likewise it is 50µg/d and 1150mg/d respectively for children (1-10 years). The upper limits for biotin have not yet been established.

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