Friday, November 18, 2011
Friday not-so-funny: Europeans can now be imprisoned (2 yrs!) for claiming that water protects against dehydration
Perhaps a dictionary would have helped. Dehydration, from "hydor," the Greek word for water, means to lose water, or suffer water deprivation.
"The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are, highly paid, highly pensioned officials trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true," says Conservative MEP Roger Helmer.
Wait a minute. How does an anti-science flat-earther like Helmer rate mainstream ink? Leave science to the scientists!
UPDATE: EFSA and/or EFBW issue a blatantly fraudulent "clarification," lying about the actual basis of EFSA's ruling
Anthony Watts links to what seems to be a clarification by EFSA, scolding the press for what it claims are misrepresentations of its ruling. (I say that the clarification seems to be be from EFSA because that is how it is written, but instead of being posted on the EFSA website, it is posted on the website of one of the organizations that EFSA regulates (the European Federation for Bottled Water), with no indication of authorship. It's hard to believe that the regulated body would have posted such a clarification without guidance from EFSA, so it is most likely that this IS an EFSA clarification, but as yet this is uncertain. Given the blatant dishonesty of the statement, authorship really should be established.)
The "clarification" claims that the EFSA ruling rejected the proposed health claim on the grounds that dehydration is not recognized as a disease (leaving the implication that since no actual health claim was made, there would be no prohibition on making it):
Among those claims was a claim related to the role of water in the prevention of dehydration filed earlier this year by two German scientists. At the time, the claim had to be rejected by EFSA because it was filed under the wrong legal provision (Article 14 of Regulation 1924/2006/EC instead of Article 13). In short, Article 14 deals with diseases and illnesses whereas dehydration was not regarded by EFSA as a disease.The actual ruling, however, says no such thing, but quite clearly accepts that dehydration IS a disease:
… the applicant proposed water loss in tissues or reduced water content in tissues as risk factors of dehydration. On the basis of the data presented, the Authority concluded in its opinion received by the Commission and the Member States on 16 February 2011 that the proposed risk factors are measures of water depletion and thus are measures of the disease. Accordingly, as a risk factor in the development of a disease is not shown to be reduced, the claim does not comply with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 and it should not be authorised. [Emphasis added.]As this excerpt makes clear, EFSA's actual grounds for rejecting the proposed claim was a bizarre assessment that the claim does not address a risk factor for the disease, but only a measure of the disease, and hence is not a valid claim about reduction of a risk factor.
This is incredibly stupid. Failure to drink enough water is not a risk factor for dehydration? Just to try to make this distinction is nonsensical enough, but then they get it wrong to boot, on the most trivially simple matter: can drinking water help prevent dehydration?
Also, EFSA does declare the claim unauthorized, meaning disallowed, which would not be the case if they had ruled that it was not actually a health claim. So everything in the clarification is just a fraud. It seems they got embarrassed when people noticed how stupid their ruling was and concocted a completely dishonest excuse.
I emailed both EFSA and EFBW inquiring whether EFSA had provided guidance on the clarification posted by EFBW, or whether EFBW was just brown-nosing on their own initiative. Hey, no answer. I may have to try a Freedom of Information request.
Even if this was just brown-nosing, EFSA is complicit by not correcting the bogus "clarification," and for a government agency to be involved at all with this kind of blatant dishonesty is serious in itself, regardless of the inanity of the issue.
UPDATE II: The UK Register's attempt to make sense of EFSA's ruling is also at odds with the ruling
From the UK Register's report, the same day as the Express story:
After due deliberation, the panel concluded that "the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006". This sticking point appears to be whether water alone, and how much, will cure dehydration.One understands the need of the human brain to impose order onto chaos, but the ruling itself is quite clear. There is nothing in it about the inadequacy of water as a means of reducing risk of dehydration. EFSA never reached that question, thanks to its ludicrous decision to declare that drinking water does not address a risk factor for dehydration, but only a measure of dehydration. (What?) Sorry Register, but you need to restrain your reporters from substituting what their subjects might sensibly have said for what they did say.
Not to suggest that the ruling would have been reasonable if it were based on a sufficiency argument. The claim in question was very modest. It only said that drinking water "can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.” So a negative ruling (if the actual issue had been reached) would have said no, drinking water cannot reduce the risk of dehydration. Really, it can't? Not ever? Can't even reduce the risk? That would be almost as insane as their actual ruling.