An asterisk (*) behind the claims of herbal dietary supplements in the Netherlands

Apr 22, 2022
Sébastien Bouley
You may see a claim followed by an asterisk on a herbal food supplement marketed in the Netherlands. These food supplements are composed of one or more plant(s) or plant extract(s) claiming effects on health. In accordance with European regulations on nutritional and health claims, only scientifically substantiated claims are permitted.


The European Commission is in charge of deciding whether a health claim is approved. EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, validates the scientific substantiation of a health claim. The European authorities draw up a list of authorized claims that the Dutch administration has listed in their claims database.

  • Health claims for herbal preparations

There is something special about claims on herbal supplements. The EFSA has not yet issued an opinion on this. The claims for herbs are therefore still ‘on hold’. It is not yet known how long it will take before EFSA makes any statements about this.

  • ‘On hold’ disclaimer for herbal preparations

As long as there is no advice from EFSA and no decision from the European Commission, claims that are ‘on hold’ may still be used. To make it clear that the underlying scientific evidence submitted has not yet been assessed, it has been agreed in the Netherlands that an ‘on-hold’ disclaimer will be stated with these claims. This disclaimer is intended to point out to consumers that the authorization procedure of the health claim for the herb in question is still ongoing. This prevents misleading the consumer. The disclaimer is referenced with an asterisk. It stands behind the on-hold claim on the label and in all other communications.

  • Why ‘on hold’?

Internationally, there are many differences between herbal preparations. In one country these products are seen as medicine, in another as health product. That makes it difficult to assess the claims on this.

  • Examples of an ‘on hold’ disclaimer for herbal preparations

At the Inspection Council we are often asked which disclaimers you can use. You may encounter the following terms:

– Health claim pending approval by the European Commission,

– Admission procedure for this health claim is still ongoing,

– Health claim pending European authorization,

– Health effect has not yet been officially established.

  • Useful! Our step-by-step plan for on-hold claims

How do you know if you can use a claim on an herbal supplement? We have clearly laid out the steps you need to take in our step-by-step plan for on-hold claims. You can find it here .

Would you like to submit an application for an advertisement with ‘on hold’ claims? In that case, indicate under which ID number the claim is ‘on hold’, so that we can verify this. Also send the conditions of use. Also indicate how these relate to the amount of the substance in the product.

If the product does not meet the conditions of use specified when the claim is submitted, the daily dose will have to be justified by means of scientific publications. The communication must clearly indicate which herb/botanical is responsible for the claimed health effect, just like it is the case with the approved claims for non-botanicals.

To know more, you can consult the news from the NL government.