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Shauni FitzgeraldMay 21, 2024 11:45:35 AM6 min read

What Makes Your Product Unique

What Makes Your Product Unique

It can be difficult to navigate the complicated world of health claim submissions, but success depends on an appreciation of the significance of product characterization. We'll go into the specifics of this crucial procedure in this blog, looking at recent regulatory developments that have affected the market as well as real-world examples.

Table of Contents

Defining Product Characterization

Product characterization is a critical step in the health claim application process. It's essentially the benchmark that defines the uniqueness and consistency of a product.

Key Components

Several elements are crucial for thorough product characterization:

  • Composition
  • Physical and chemical characteristics
  • Manufacturing process
  • Stability

These components ensure that the product meets the required specifications for a health claim.

Bioactive Compounds

It's essential to include bioactive compounds that influence the claimed effect within your application. This adds credibility and specificity to the product.

The Importance of Quality Systems

Quality systems play a vital role in the product characterization process. They ensure that all measurements and processes are performed competently and consistently.

Good Manufacturing and Laboratory Practices

Adhering to good manufacturing practice (GMP) and good laboratory practice (GLP) is crucial. These practices ensure that the product is produced and tested in a controlled and reliable environment.

ISO Standards

Following applicable ISO standards is another key aspect of a robust quality system. These standards provide a framework for ensuring quality and consistency.

Documentation for EFSA

All aspects of the quality system should be thoroughly documented. This documentation is essential for EFSA to review and approve the health claim application.

Early Challenges with Product Characterization

In the early days of the nutrition and health claims regulation, many applications failed due to inadequate product characterization. Understanding these challenges can provide valuable lessons for current and future applications.

Case Study: Prolibra

One notable example is the 2012 article 13.5 claim for Prolibra, a whey protein isolate. The applicant was not transparent about the manufacturing process, hydrolysis extent, and enzymes used. This lack of detail led to the application's rejection.

Case Study: Rhubarb Extract

Another example from the same period involved a rhubarb extract combined with microorganisms. The applicant eventually revealed that the microorganisms were yeasts and lactobacillus strains but did not specify the exact types. This lack of specificity resulted in the application's failure.

Rhodiola Rosea: A Case Study in Mismatched Characterization

Rhodiola Rosea provides a classic example of how mismatched characterization can derail a health claim application.

Background and Claims

The Rhodiola Rosea claim dates back to 2012 and involved an extract from an arctic plant. The claims were related to stress reduction, a topic with some historical publication support.

Standardization Issues

The product was standardized according to two bioactive compounds: salidroside and rosavins. However, the human intervention studies submitted only standardized the product by salidroside.

This discrepancy between the claimed bioactives and those studied created a significant gap. The inconsistency undermined the credibility of the claim, ultimately leading to its rejection.

Lessons Learned

This case highlights the importance of aligning product characterization with the bioactives studied. Consistency is crucial for successful health claim applications.

Meganatural Grapeseed Extract: The Perils of Unsupported Claims

The Meganatural Grapeseed Extract claim from 2021 underscores the risks of using unsupported data in applications.

Specific vs. General Data

The applicant had human studies on their specific product. However, they attempted to support their claim with meta-analysis data on other grape extracts, including those from the fruit and skin.

EFSA's stance was clear: a grapeseed extract is not the same as other grape extracts. The meta-analysis data did not match the specified product, leading to the claim's failure.

Critical Importance of Matching Data

This case emphasizes the necessity of using data that precisely matches the product in question. Unsupported data can weaken the application and lead to rejection.

The Impact of Transparency Regulations

The introduction of transparency regulations in 2021 has significantly changed the landscape for health claim applications.

Increased Emphasis on Quality

There is now a greater focus on quality aspects and product characterization. Applicants must document and demonstrate quality standards around analytical work and manufacturing.

Third-Party Contractors

Many applicants rely on third-party contractors to provide necessary documentation. This includes adherence to ISO standards, GLP, and GMP.

The transparency regulations necessitate comprehensive documentation, making it essential for applicants to ensure all quality aspects are thoroughly covered.

Necessity for Documentation

Documentation of quality standards is now mandatory. This includes ISO standards, GLP, and GMP, ensuring that all aspects of product characterization are meticulously recorded.

The transparency regulations have raised the bar, making thorough documentation and adherence to quality standards more critical than ever.

Key Takeaways:

1. Essential Nature of Product Characterization: Product characterization is fundamental to the success of health claim applications. It involves detailing the product's composition, physical and chemical properties, manufacturing process, and stability.

2. Critical Role of Bioactive Compounds: Including bioactive compounds that influence the claimed effect is crucial. Consistency between the bioactives studied and those claimed is necessary for credibility and approval.

3. Importance of Quality Systems: Robust quality systems, including adherence to GMP, GLP, and ISO standards, are vital. These systems support consistent and reliable measurements and processes.

4. Documentation for Regulatory Approval: Comprehensive documentation is essential for regulatory bodies like EFSA to review and approve health claims. This includes thorough records of quality systems and standards.

5. Early Challenges and Lessons: Early health claim applications often failed due to inadequate product characterization. Understanding these past challenges helps in preparing better applications today.

6. Case Studies on Inconsistent Characterization:
   - Prolibra: Failed due to lack of transparency about the manufacturing process and product specifics.
   - Rhubarb Extract: Rejected because of the lack of specificity in microorganism strains.

7. Consistency in Standardization: The Rhodiola Rosea case highlighted the importance of aligning product characterization with the bioactives studied. Inconsistencies can undermine the credibility of the claim.

8. Data Matching: The Meganatural Grapeseed Extract case demonstrated the perils of using unsupported data. It's essential to use data that precisely matches the product in question.

9. Impact of Transparency Regulations: Introduced in 2021, these regulations increased the focus on quality and comprehensive documentation. Applicants must record all quality aspects meticulously.

10. Necessity of Stability Studies: These studies assess the product's quality over time under various environmental conditions, maintaining the product's quality, safety, and efficacy.

By concentrating on these key areas, applicants can improve their chances of successfully navigating the health claim application process.




Here are some frequently asked questions to help clarify common concerns about product characterization and health claim applications.

What are stability studies?

Stability studies assess how the quality of a product varies over time under the influence of environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light.

Why are stability studies important?

They ensure that the product maintains its intended quality, safety, and efficacy throughout its shelf life.

What is notifiable analysis?

Notifiable analysis tests are specific evaluations that must be reported to regulatory bodies. Stability studies often fall into this category.

Where can I find more information?

Stay tuned for our upcoming detailed discussions on stability studies and notifiable analysis tests.


Shauni Fitzgerald

Shauni Fitzgerald, a seasoned Regulatory Affairs & Research Manager at Atlantia Clinical Trials, excels in clinical study design, regulatory submissions, and quality management. With a master's in Nutritional Sciences, she brings expertise and leadership to the field.