Black Tea Earns Endorsement from European Food Safety Authority

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has awarded Unilever a positive opinion on its heath claim that black tea improves people’s attention span.

The EFSA endorsement is a first involving tea.

The head of Unilever R&D and lead scientist, Dr. Amelia Jarman said the claim is based on company research involving human trials. Unilever conducted three human intervention studies in which volunteers drank two to three servings of either black tea or tea-flavored colored water on separate occasions, she explained.

Test subjects then undertook a series of tasks to measure their attention span both before and after each serving. Those drinking tea consistently showed higher attention scores which are based on accuracy and the speed of their responses. One study demonstrated that the stronger the tea, the higher the scores.

According to EFSA “the claimed effect depends on the concerted action of two substances, caffeine and l‐theanine, both of which are present in black tea. 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 minutes.”

Participants in the study who consumed tea received 1,40 milligrams of tea solids and 36 mg of l‐theanine.

In a press release, Clive Gristwood, executive vice president of R&D Foods & Refreshment at Unilever, said the company is pleased to be one of the few companies to achieve EFSA’s official positive scientific opinion.

“We consider it a reward for our long years of extensive research in the benefits associated with drinking tea,” he said.

The European Commission will now review the opinion and if the application is granted, Unilever will have exclusive rights to use this health claim for a period of five years.

Source: EFSA, Unilever