THE EU was ridiculed last night after it took three years to issue a new rule that water cannot be sold as healthy.
In a scarcely believable ruling, a panel of experts threw out a claim that regular water consumption is the best way to rehydrate the body.
The bizarre diktat from Brussels has far-reaching implications for member states, including Britain, as no water sold in the EU can now claim to protect against dehydration.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has signed the order
Any producer breaching the order, signed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, faces being jailed for up to two years. It took the 21 scientists on the panel three years of analysis into the link between water and dehydration to come to their extraordinary conclusion.
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.
Conservative MEP Roger Helmer
Last night the decision of the European Food Safety Authority’s panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was labelled “beyond parody”. Ukip’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall, who sits on the European Parliament’s Public Health Committee, said: “I had to read this four or five times before I believed it.
“It is a perfect example of what the EU does best and makes the bendy banana law look positively sane.”
Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “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.
“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Of course water hydrates. While we support the EU in preventing false claims about commercial products, we need to exercise common sense as far as possible.”
Jose Manuel Barroso and David Cameron at a round table meeting earlier this year
German professors Dr Moritz Hagenmeyer and Dr Andreas Hahn, of the Institute for Food Science and Human Nutrition at Hanover Leibniz University, applied for approval for the seemingly uncontentious claim that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration”. However, bureaucrats refused to back them.
After a meeting in Italy a delegation of scientists concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration rather than a risk factor that drinking water could control. Now their verdict has been turned into a regulation that will become UK law by December 6 and is bound to send shockwaves through the soft drinks industry.
Last night Professor Hahn said he was considering appealing against the ruling in the European courts.
The EU has a long history of passing bizarre regulations, the most infamous being 1995 rules setting out dimensions for fruit and vegetables which led to excessively curved bananas and ugly carrots being banned. And last year attempts to regulate the use of root vegetables in Cornish pasties sparked chaos.
EU spokesman David D’Arcy said last night: “Of course drinking water is essential for health and the commission is not stopping anyone from saying so.
“This is a specific case with specific characteristics. Either way the final decision is for member states.”