21st October 2011
Traditional knowledge about the laxative effects of prunes and prune juice is well known wherever you live and whatever language you speak. Our grandparents have been passing this natural wisdom down through the generations, for centuries. We can’t even begin to hazard a guess at the number of people around the world who can attest to the fact that at some time in their life eating prunes has helped restore normal bowel function and ‘set them free’.
Casting the words ‘prunes’ and ‘bowels’ into the sea of the Internet nets you a staggering 1,570,000 results. Not exactly a secret then. But a panel of European 'experts', charged with telling 500 million European citizens what they are allowed to be told about the health benefits of food, thinks otherwise. We are of course talking about EFSA's Panel on Dietetic Foods, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) which, in its wisdom, has concluded that there was insufficient evidence provided to establish a cause and effect relationship between prunes and normal bowel function. Meaning that the health benefit claim that would lead consumers to a cheap, natural and effective remedy to restore normal bowel function has been rejected. Let's remember that this is just one of around 3,600 health claims that EFSA has rejected prior to the EU's plan to integrate them into a draconian European law that represents the most astonishing infringement on freedom of speech.
It seems as if EFSA’s NDA panel hasn’t taken enough heed of grandparental advice, so we thought that some additional empirical evidence might convince the panel members. Perhaps a large glass of prune juice every morning before their breakfast for 7 days? We invite any of them to deny a cause and effect relationship at the end of the ‘trial’!
When the generic list of claims under the EU’s Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR) is published (expected early 2012), no claims for the benefits of prunes for bowel health will be allowed across Europe for foods or food ingredients. But it’s not just prunes that have fallen short of the mark when it comes to establishing a causal effect, according to EFSA's scientific methodology. Around 95% of claims for plant-based foods have been rejected. With many of these being for extremely well known healthy foods like berry fruits, broccoli and pomegranate, one wonders why EFSA 'experts' haven't scratched their heads and woken up to the fact that their methods have severe shortcomings.
For those of you curious about how Mother Nature ensures healthy bowels through the humble prune, read on. Firstly, prunes are a great source of fibre, but they also contain a substance called dihydrophenylisatin. Dihydrophenylisatin is a laxative that aids smooth muscle contractions. This enables a more healthy and regular rhythm of contraction (peristalsis), which helps to ensure regular movements. Prunes also contain different sugars, especially sorbitol. Sorbitol in particular is like a magnet for fluids, helping to draw fluid into the intestines keeping the waste soft and speeding its passage out of the body. It's thought that the dihydrophenylisatin and the sorbitol are enough on their own to yield the desired benefit, as many of us (but not EFSA's NDA panel it seems) can attest, because prune juice has the desired effect even when it's stripped of the fibre. Oops, was that another health claim?
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) will be called to vote soon on the Community List of claims under NHCR in order to make it law across all 27 Member States of the EU. European citizens, please write to your MEP and ask him or her to stop this travesty against our communications about the health benefits of food. MEPs originally voted for the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation because they thought it was going to protect consumers from false and misleading claims. They didn't bargain on the fact that it was going to stop citizens from being informed about foods that were healthy. It's now down to you to tell MEPs how you feel about EFSA's rejection of the vast majority of claims it has evaluated. Check out our selected list of some of these negative opinions — released today — to see just how far off the mark EFSA is!
See below for our press releaseissued today and our listing of nonsensical EFSA health claim rejections/opinions:
ANH-Intl releases listing of selected nonsensical negative health claim opinions by EFSA
Listing of particularly nonsensical health claim negative opinions from EFSA for known healthy foods.
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