The European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) has called for the swift approval of two health claims related to caffeine and endurance in the wake of a European Parliamentary vote that refused to authorise them.

Citing safety concerns over two proposed health claims that could inadvertently encourage consumption of energy drinks by adolescents, MEPs have asked the Commission to look again at a block of four health claims related to caffeine. ESSNA regrets that this also means the rejection of two health claims that link caffeine and endurance and which were exclusively targeted at adults performing endurance exercise.

These health claims have undergone stringent scientific assessments and were intended to better inform and educate consumers of the benefits of sports products that contain caffeine, while protecting vulnerable groups of the population such as children and adolescents, to whom these products are not marketed or advertised. ESSNA is also calling on policy makers to make a clear distinction between sports drinks and energy drinks – the former of which are solely targeted at adults performing exercise and pose little risk to young people.

Dr Adam Carey, Chair of ESSNA said:

“It is frustrating that these claims have been rejected because of concerns over issues that have nothing to do with the needs of sportspeople. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has assessed these claims on two separate occasions – including full safety tests – and on both occasions has concluded that these claims are not only safe, but they are beneficial to sportspeople. It therefore makes no sense whatsoever that the claims should have to go back for further re-evaluation.

“The industry is making a significant investment to get these approved and quite frankly it’s extremely disappointing when scientifically proven claims are rejected without any basis or foundation. Not only does this have a negative impact on the industry’s innovation and growth, it stands in the way of informing and educating consumers about their sports nutrition needs.

“This is effectively withholding scientifically proven fact of the highest standards from undeserving consumers, and penalising a responsible and growing sector at the same time, because of speculative and unsubstantiated concerns. We are therefore calling for swift approval of the claims, which have already seen many unnecessary delays over the past few years, so the industry and consumers can move forward.”