EFSA gives European go-ahead for dark chocolate health claim

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th July 2012

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a new study that gives scientific validation to health claim that consumption of dark chocolate improves blood circulation.

EFSA is the EU’s scientific assessor of food regulatory standards. Its responsibilities include independent scientific assessment of health claims in relation to any food sold in Europe.

The particular health claim in question was contained in an application made to EFSA by one of Europe’s leading chocolate manufacturers, Barry Callebaut.

The EFSA panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (DPNA) gave its opinion on the proposed health claim, which related to the effect of cocoa flavanols for maintenance of normal blood circulation.

Barry Callebaut’s application claimed that newly developed scientific evidence suggested that cocoa flavanols have a beneficial physiological effect on the general healthy adult population.

The EFSA Panel reviewed Barry Callebaut’s evidence, in the form of human intervention studies, and took into account the studies that showed sustained consumption of cocoa flavanols to improve blood circulation. The Panel concluded that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of cocoa flavanols and maintenance of normal blood circulation.

In order to obtain the claimed effect, 200mg of cocoa flavanols should be consumed daily. This amount could be provided by 2.5g of high-flavanol cocoa powder or 10g of high-flavanol dark chocolate. These amounts of cocoa powder or dark chocolate can be consumed in the context of a balanced diet. The target population is the general population.

Australian Food News recently reported an Australian study also having found that dark chocolate had a similar health benefit.

The regulatory minefield of health claims on food packaging is the central theme of an upcoming FoodLegal Symposium on 21 August 2012.  Registration online is available here. The event program is also available for download by clicking here.

The full EFSA study is available here.