Unilever, the world’s leading tea company, has announced that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a positive opinion on the company’s evidence that black tea improves attention. This makes Unilever the first company in the EU to receive a positive scientific opinion on a health claim for tea from the EFSA.
Dr Amelia Jarman, R&D Director and lead scientist at Unilever said: “Some initial evidence suggested that black tea could improve attention, which is the ability to concentrate on, filter and utilise incoming sensory information. So, we set out to generate the scientific evidence to confirm this.”
Working with external academic experts, Unilever ran three pivotal human intervention studies in which volunteers drank two to three servings of either black tea or coloured and tea-flavoured water on separate occasions. The volunteers undertook a series of tasks to measure attention before and after each serving. Participants were tested on both the accuracy and speed of their responses. The results consistently showed that after drinking black tea, the attention scores were higher. One of the studies, which is proprietary, demonstrated that the stronger the tea, the higher the attention scores.
Clive Gristwood, Executive Vice President R&D Foods & Refreshment at Unilever, said: “It is very valuable for us to have this official positive scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority. We are pleased to be one of the few companies to achieve this and we consider it a reward for our long years of extensive research in the benefits associated with drinking tea.”
The EFSA published its public opinion that “owing to its caffeine content, black tea improves attention”, on 24 May 2018, which was followed by a 30-day period of consultation.
The European Commission will now review the EFSA opinion. If the application is granted, Unilever will have exclusive rights to use this health claim for a period of five years.