EU regulator defends water ‘hydration’ claim knock back

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 25th November 2011

The European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) has responded to criticism over its ruling that bottled water manufacturers are banned from claiming that water can prevent dehydration.

The EFSA is responsible for scientific assessment of food and composition and food marketing claims in Europe.

On 16 November 2011 the European Commission published a list of health claims made on foods that refer to the reduction of disease risk (EU No 1170/​2011) that had been rejected in previous months by the EFSA.

The list included the following claim: “Regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance”.

In response to widespread media coverage lambasting the EFSA for banning the claim, the EFSA has published a statement explaining its ruling on its website.

The EFSA statement said, “At the time, the claim had to be rejected by EFSA because it was filed under the wrong legal provision (Article 14 of Regulation 1924/2006/EC, instead of Article 13). In short, Article 14 deals with diseases and illnesses whereas dehydration was not regarded by EFSA as a disease.

“The press has misinterpreted the publication by concluding that EFSA was challenging the role of water in the context of hydration. In fact nothing could be further from the truth!”

The British Soft Drinks Association (BSFA) backed up the EFSA’s position in a statement it released this week. The BSFA statement said, “The EFSA rejected some wordings on technicalities, but it has previously supported claims that drinking water is good for normal physical and cognitive functions and normal thermoregulation. The stories in some of the newspapers did not quite capture the whole picture.”