EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration, report Victoria Ward and Nick Collins
Brussels bureaucrats were ridiculed yesterday after banning drink manufacturers from claiming that water can prevent dehydration.
EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.This bit of inspired insanity on the part of EuroCrat zanies, who clearly have too much time on their hands and not a dollop of common sense amongst them, is hardly unique, as Nick Collins points out in his piece, EU bottled water ruling joins the ranks of bendy banana law.
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 sense. 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 patently true.
“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 litres 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 labels.
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 on Wednesday.
The European Union has a reputation for making rulings on the minutiae of everyday life that some consider to be petty, provocative and absolutely pointless. Here are five of the most notorious.
Curved cucumbers and bendy bananas
In perhaps the most ridiculed example of Brussels bureaucracy, the EU dictated that only cucumbers which were “practically straight” and had a gradient of no more than 1/10 could be sold as Class 1.
The controversial directive, along with a host of other criteria applying to bendy bananas, knobbly carrots and several other fruit and vegetables, were eventually scrapped amid fears farmers were discarding perfectly edible produce at a time of world food shortages.
Swedes or turnips?
Having already prescribed how long, short, straight or bendy a fruit or vegetable should be, the European Commission decided last summer that a swede can be called a turnip, provided it is in a Cornish pasty.
In guidelines which stated that minced or diced beef, sliced potato, onion and swede were the only ingredients permitted in the traditional snack, officials were forced to allow the word “turnip” in ingredient lists – though not in the pasties themselves – because the Cornish confusingly use the word to refer to Swedes.
Female drivers no safer than men
Earlier this year the European Court of Justice ruled that insurance companies could no longer charge women lower premiums than men in a decision described by Tory MEPs as “utter madness”.
Judges said that to use gender as a risk factor in car and medical insurance premium calculations or pension schemes breached equality laws.
Eggs by the dozen
Last summer draft legislation published by the EU stated that all groceries should be sold under a common system based on weight.
But despite rejecting bids to include a caveat which would have allowed certain products to be sold by number – for example a dozen eggs or six bread rolls – MEPs admitted the law could not prevent manufacturers including a number on the box, as long as the weight was also listed.
Last week the EU ruled that bottled water manufacturers could no longer advertise their product as helping to prevent dehydration because of a lack of scientific evidence.
Although some scientists have argued the ruling is technically correct because, for example, drinking water would not help prevent the dehydration that comes with diahorrea, others accused Brussels of yet another piece of petty legislation that runs counter to common sense.