The EU's moves to regulate the health claims food manufacturers make on products is having a negative impact on innovation, ingredients giant DSM has told just-food.

Under the legislation on health claims, food manufacturers operating in the EU must demonstrate that the claims they want to make on-pack are backed by credible science.

Last month, Europe's food safety watchdog, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), said it had rejected two-thirds of the first health claim submissions as unproven.

This first batch was mainly related to the functions of vitamins and minerals, dietary fibres, fatty acids for maintaining cholesterol and sugar-free gum. The EFSA has around another 3,600 health claims to assess.

Speaking at the Food Ingredients Europe exhibition in Frankfurt, DSM's Martijn Adorf said the work needed to meet demands from the company's customers on health claims had had a bigger effect on the Dutch group's business than the economic downturn.

"The situation surrounding the EFSA regulations has been a bigger factor," Adorf, vice president for metabolic health business platforms at DSM, said. "This whole process has created uncertainty. It is not a good platform on which to innovate."

Earlier this week, agribusiness analysts Rabobank issued a report that claimed the regulations could force up costs for food ingredient companies. Suppliers to packaged food manufacturers may need to help fund clinical studies in a bid to gain EFSA approval, Rabobank argued.

The report also argued that the food ingredients sector, already full of collaboration between companies, could be ripe for further consolidation.

DSM, which made two acquisitions in 2008, has been less active on M&A in 2009 but Adorf said the group was on the look-out for possible purchases or partnerships.

"We are always actively looking for partners and we would use the leverage we have with our global coverage," he added.