The first assessment of existing food health claims by Europe's food safety watchdog has rejected two thirds of the submissions as unproven.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released 523 opinions today and said that only "around a third" were favourable.

As for the rest, an EFSA spokesperson told just-food: "There was either not enough scientific evidence to support the claim or the identification of the substance was unclear."

Manufacturers had often been too broad in defining a foodstuff covered by a health claim, hindering scientific evaluation, the spokesperson said.

This first round of assessments related mainly to functions of vitamins and minerals, dietary fibres, fatty acids for maintaining cholesterol, and sugar-free chewing gum. Manufacturers disappointed in their applications for an EFSA approval of their health claims can reapply.

There is a long way to go before every submission is considered. The EFSA has another 3,602 health claims to assess under EU regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and food health claims, which insists all such marketing be white-listed.