by Victoria Ward and Nick Collins
18 November 2011
Brussels bureaucrats were ridiculed
yesterday after banning drink manufacturers from claiming that
'water can prevent dehydration.'
NHS health guidelines
state clearly that drinking water helps avoid dehydration,
and that Britons should
drink at least 1.2 liters per day
EU officials concluded that, following a
three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the
previously undisputed fact.
Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim
and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes
into force in the UK next month.
Last night, critics claimed the EU was at odds with both science and common
Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said:
“This is stupidity writ large.
“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are:
highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious
qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is
“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great
European project then this is it.”
NHS health guidelines state clearly that
drinking water helps avoid dehydration, and that Britons should drink at
least 1.2 liters per day.
The Department for Health disputed the wisdom of the new law.
A spokesman said:
“Of course water hydrates. While we support
the EU in preventing false claims about products, we need to exercise
common sense as far as possible."
German professors Dr Andreas Hahn and Dr
Moritz Hagenmeyer, who advise food manufacturers on how to advertise
their products, asked the European Commission if the claim could be made on
They compiled what they assumed was an uncontroversial statement in order to
test new laws which allow products to claim they can reduce the risk of
disease, subject to EU approval.
They applied for the right to state that,
“regular consumption of significant amounts
of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration” as well as
preventing a decrease in performance.
However, last February, the European Food
Standards Authority (EFSA)
refused to approve the statement.
A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water
content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that
drinking water could subsequently control.
Now the EFSA verdict has been turned into an EU directive which was issued
Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said the ruling made the “bendy banana law”
look “positively sane”.
“I had to read this four or five times
before I believed it. It is a perfect example of what Brussels does
best. Spend three years, with 20 separate pieces of correspondence
before summoning 21 professors to Parma where they decide with great
solemnity that drinking water cannot be sold as a way to combat
“Then they make this judgment law and make it clear that if anybody
dares sell water claiming that it is effective against dehydration they
could get into serious legal bother.
EU regulations, which aim to uphold food
standards across member states, are frequently criticized.
Rules banning bent bananas and curved cucumbers were scrapped in 2008 after
causing international ridicule.
Prof Hahn, from the Institute for Food Science and Human Nutrition at
Hanover Leibniz University, said the European Commission had made another
mistake with its latest ruling.
“What is our reaction to the outcome? Let us
put it this way: We are neither surprised nor delighted.
“The European Commission is wrong; it should have authorized the claim.
That should be more than clear to anyone who has consumed water in the
past, and who has not? We fear there is something wrong in the state of
Prof Brian Ratcliffe, spokesman for the
Nutrition Society, said dehydration was usually caused by a clinical
condition and that one could remain adequately hydrated without drinking
“The EU is saying that this does not reduce
the risk of dehydration and that is correct. This claim is trying to
imply that there is something special about
bottled water which is not a reasonable
More at "In
Stunning Show of Bureaucratic Idiocy, EU Directive Bans Health Claim That
Water Prevents Dehydration".