The NHCR impacts both the development and the international competitiveness of the food and supplement industries in Europe and beyond.
Even European pharma is partly deprived of opportunities to venture into the future landscapes of medical nutrition.
Not to mention the cynicism of a system where consumers are dying from eating the wrong foods and producers are forbidden to promote or communicate the benefits of eating the right foods.
The sad fact is that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has rewound the clock on innovation and consumer health. Now established, it seems impossible to change even when modern science and simple logic is proving the system wrong.
So Brexit open doors to possibilities denied other European nations. We need only to go back to the days before EFSA to understand what development we have been denied.
Regulation & innovation
The development of the functional food industry before EFSA was in EU member states like Sweden and Finland parallel and comparable to Telecom. And it is not a coincidence that the first mobile phones were born in the same science parks as the first probiotic functional foods.
New opportunities opened up with the help of advances in science and technology and they were stimulated by consumer needs and triggered by investments and visionaries from the food and telecom industry.
Phones could be mobile phones and foods could be functional foods! But what really helped these burgeoning new segments to take off was not only the investments but a deregulated environment instigated by the Swedish and Finnish governments.
For mobile phones it meant opening radio frequencies for civil use.
For functional foods it meant a regulatory system that approved structure/function and proprietary claims. The industry grew fast.
Then came the NHCR at the end of 2006 and the first health claims rejections by EFSA in 2008. The functional food industry slowly dwindled…
Could you imagine the early telecom industry being treated in the same way? What if a European Telecom Safety Authority had regulated and restricted the use of frequencies for radio and data communication? Then we wouldn’t have seen that industry become what it is today.
So what an extraordinary opportunity Brexit has given Britain to deregulate and take the lead in global functional foods and supplements innovation to the benefit of its consumers, companies and above all – country.
Peter Wennstrom is the founder and president of the Healthy Marketing Team.