Following an application from Unilever NV, submitted for authorisation of a health claim pursuant to Article 13(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of Ireland, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to black tea and improvement of attention.
The scope of the application was proposed to fall under a health claim based on newly developed scientific evidence.
The general approach of the NDA Panel for the evaluation of health claims applications is outlined in the EFSA general guidance for stakeholders on health claim applications and the guidance on the scientific requirements for health claims related to functions of the nervous system, including psychological functions.
The food proposed by the applicant as the subject of the health claim is black tea. The Panel considers that the food, black tea characterised by its content of tea solids, caffeine and l‐theanine, which is the subject of the health claim, is sufficiently characterised in relation to the claimed effect.
The claimed effect proposed by the applicant is ‘improve attention’. The proposed target population is ‘adults in the general population’. The Panel considers that improvement of attention is a beneficial physiological effect.
The three human intervention studies provided by the applicant showed an effect of black tea on attention under the conditions of use proposed by the applicant (a cumulative amount of 1,040 mg of tea solids, delivering at least 90 mg of caffeine and 36 mg of l‐theanine consumed within a time period of up to 90 min).
The applicant proposed that the claimed effect depends on the concerted action of two substances, caffeine and l‐theanine, both of which are present in black tea. The Panel notes that a claim related to caffeine and increased attention has already been evaluated with a positive outcome. Five human intervention studies addressed the effects of caffeine plus l‐theanine vs caffeine alone on attention. The Panel considers that these studies do not show an effect of caffeine and l‐theanine on attention separate to that of caffeine alone, and that the mechanism of action for l‐theanine on attention proposed by the applicant is speculative. The Panel also considers that it is well established that caffeine increases attention in healthy adult individuals of both sexes at doses of at least 75 mg, and that cumulative doses of caffeine consumed over a period of 90 min are likely to exert similar effects on attention as the same dose of caffeine consumed on a single occasion. The Panel, therefore, considers that the effect of black tea on attention observed in the three human intervention studies provided by the applicant can be explained by its caffeine content.
On the basis of the data provided, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of black tea and improvement of attention.
The Panel considers that the effect of black tea on attention can be explained by its caffeine content.
The Panel also considers that these conclusions could not have been reached without the study claimed as proprietary by the applicant.
The following wording reflects the scientific evidence: ‘Owing to its caffeine content, black tea improves attention’.
In order to obtain the claimed effect, 2–3 servings of black tea providing at least 75 mg of caffeine in total should be consumed within 90 min. The target population is adults in the general population.