Best of 2012 Services Provider: EAS Strategic Advice

December 7, 2012

This consultancy guides companies through the international regulatory arena.

EAS Strategic Advice has earned its well-deserved international reputation as an expert on food and nutrition regulatory issues and policies. It is considered a go-to source for delivering the most accurate, up-to-date regulatory information and excels at helping companies successfully bring products to market, through the regulatory maze. “Companies are starting to realize that regulatory issues need to be brought up early in strategy discussions, and that they need to keep a global perspective when devising a marketing strategy,” explains food law expert and EAS director Simon Pettman.

EAS’s expertise has been especially crucial in recent years, in light of major regulatory changes in the European Union. The EU’s Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation is one of the biggest worldwide regulatory challenges facing the natural products industry today. Earlier this year, the European Commission established a list of approved and rejected Article 13.1 health claims, informed by the opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA; Parma, Italy). (Additionally, the industry awaits new, separate regulations that will affect botanical ingredients.)

To the consternation of many in industry, a majority of health claims submitted for review did not make the cut on the list of approved Article 13.1 claims. “The EU regulations are far from ideal,” says Pettman. “They have frustrated many, from governments to small companies. But we have to work together to share information and find solutions.”

Fortunately, EAS is in position to help and provide some clarity to industry members. For instance, one way EAS experts help companies interpret these new regulations is through its workshops, which are held worldwide throughout the year. EAS added an additional workshop to its schedule this December in Brussels, in response to marketers’ needs, to help companies comply with the European Commission’s December 14, 2012, deadline by which companies had to cease using specific unapproved claims.

Pettman says there are many solutions for companies whose claims were rejected. “There are alternative ways of communicating health benefits to consumers,” he explains. During workshops, EAS experts can suggest the right route for a company to take. (The company purposely aims to keep each workshop’s audience to an intimate size so that EAS experts can personally address specific concerns.)

EAS also provides other ways to access information. In a webcast held earlier this year in February, EAS collaborated with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service to advise natural product exporters. Among the topics discussed were the basics of the regulatory issues in Europe, labeling requirements, and an overview of the food and supplement markets in the EU. EAS experts are also available for personal consultations every year at the Vitafoods exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, to give companies free guidance on regulatory compliance.

Additionally, EAS provides regulatory guidance on the development of food product labels. EAS will also help a company evaluate a new product range prior to launch, assessing ingredients, formulations, and label claims to determine how they comply with food regulations in specific countries. When a product is not in compliance-a problem many manufacturers face now in the EU-EAS will advise on how to reformulate, adjust ingredient levels, or change a label claim.

In addition to advising on how to comply with new or existing food policy regulations, EAS monitors policies currently in development worldwide-as well as policies upcoming. In particular, EAS experts often advise companies on the impact new policies and regulatory trends will have.

EAS has offices in Argentina, Brussels, Italy, and Singapore. These strategic locations allow the EAS team to understand key differences between each market and to monitor new regulations more closely. As Pettman says, “There are two key elements that are really central to what we do: one is focusing on nutrition and food, and the other is to keep moving around the world to make personal connections, bringing new levels of expertise and knowledge to new regions.”

The ability to bring different experts together to solve issues is a great motivator for the EAS staff-and for Pettman, personally. “It’s exciting,” he says. For instance, he says, “We just received a call from an association outside of the EU wanting to understand more about EU regulatory claims. Collaborating and sharing information, and forming new partnerships around the world, will be key to the industry’s future success.”