Thursday, February 09, 2012

What a World Without Ridiculous Front of Package Health Claims Would Look Like

Here in Canada (and to a lesser degree since the class action lawsuit in the United States), Danone's all about health claims. Inferred health claims, overt health claims, the bottom line it would seem is that according to Danone Canada, their yogurt's basically medicinal.

Fly across the Atlantic to Europe and it's a completely different story. You see in Europe, the standard for making health claims is different that here in Canada. First off, in Europe you can't put a claim on a food's packaging until AFTER it's been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Secondly, the claims better be supported by substantial human research with quantifiable outcomes.

As far as Danone goes, they've now twice removed their immunity claims for Actimel (Danactive here in Canada) and their gut claims for Activia from consideration, as removing them from consideration is better than a "NO". They keep saying they don't understand the process well enough to submit their dossiers - a claim I'd certainly believe the first time around, but have a tougher time swallowing the second.

My thought is that while indeed Danone has done more real science on their ingredients than possibly any other food manufacturer, that the data, although suggestive, isn't yet conclusive and hence not sufficient.

So what's triggered this post? An article in industry friendly e-zine with some quotes from some Danone folks.
"The European Union's uber-strict health claims regime may this year deliver a barren, claimless landscape to the world's biggest selling functional food category"
The horror!

So what does that mean?

Instead of the ridiculous packaging for Actimel (Danactive) that we have here in Canada and seen up above, we'll get this "barren, claimless" European version:

And then suddenly, instead of selling claims about immunity that Danone themselves feels are not scientifically rigorous to pass muster over in Europe, they'll have to just sell yogurt.

A guy can dream, can't he?