European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announcement misconstrued by press

November 24, 2011

Media confusion over EFSA rejection of  claim

Controversy over a recent ruling on the role of water has not only been greeted with derision by healthcare professionals and the bottled water industry, but has also created incorrect and alarmist headlines!
On 16 November 2011, the European Commission published a list of health claims, which had been lodged on foods. Among these claims was one, submitted by German scientists, which referred to the role of water in preventing dehydration: a claim, which had previously been rejected by the EFSA.
In actual fact, the claim had been rejected by EFSA because it was filed under the wrong legal provision, ie, Article 14 of Regulation instead of Article 13. (Article 14 actually deals with diseases and illnesses, whereas dehydration was not considered a disease by EFSA). The rejection was therefore not connected to the content of the claim, but rather to the form of the claim.
Since the announcement, however, various sections of the media have totally misinterpreted the announcement, with erroneous headlines such as ‘drinking water does not prevent dehydration’ causing total confusion among the public.
Earlier this year, the EFSA had actually acknowledged the important role of water ‘in the maintenance of normal physical and cognitive functions’ and in ‘the maintenance of normal thermoregulation’.

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