An absolutely essential move to stop Germany invading France. Again.

EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration
Brussels bureaucrats were ridiculed yesterday after banning drink manufacturers from claiming that water can prevent dehydration.

This is, as Sr. Barroso has told us, what stops the panzers rolling through the Ardennes again. If we do not bind Germany with such rules the Kreigsmarine will be inseine again.

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

It is indubitably true that if people claim that water rehydrates then paratroopers will be singing Lilli Marlene in the bars of Marseille.

Just plain and obvious, isn\’t it?

Can we leave yet?

20 thoughts on “An absolutely essential move to stop Germany invading France. Again.”

  1. This is just nuts.

    A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that drinking water could subsequently control.

    So, in order to control reduced body water content, you cannot drink water? Where did they dig these scientists out from, the IPCC?

    I note, however, that it was a couple of Germans taking the piss which has subsequently backfired. We’ll just have to keep them working on that sense of humour thing …

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Frankly I think it is time to recognise 100 years of mistaken foreign policy. We shouldn’t have let the panzer roll into Paris, but the 5th Royal Bavarian infantry? By all means. Looks the lesser of two evils here.

    I keep saying, Britain has prospered whenever we have fought the French with the Germans and lost when we have done it the other way around. Time to repent of our mistake in 1914 and restore the natural order of things.

    Bet you wouldn’t have got Imperial German scientists making these sorts of claims.

  3. Well in a world where biofuels do not cause hunger, where the Euro is not the reason for the current economic mess, and where the answer to growing global competition is to regulate even more….. then this is not really surprising.

  4. Actually, no, this isn’t what’s happened at all.

    Of course water can “dehydrate” in the common or garden sense of the word. But “dehydration” is also a specialised medical term for – well, let’s call it a disease – and drinking water absolutely does not in itself reduce the risk of dehydration, the medical condition. As the Telegraph sort of concedes in the quote from Professor Radcliffe, tucked away at the end of its report.

    The problem with the formal application from the two German academics who advise the food industry was that they wanted to make the specific scientific claim that drinking water reduces the risk of dehydration (the medical condition) and the concomitant disease related conditions.

    Well, that’s just not true, and the German application was quite rightly thrown out.

    That’s all that’s happened. There was no “three year investigation” as the Telegraph claims, nor was there “no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact”. This is just tosh. The Telegraph mendaciously or ignorantly confuses the everday meaning of dehydration, and the medical one.

    All that the EU has done is disallow the claim that drinking water prevents disease. Because it’s not true. OK?

    Tim adds: I think you’re spouting bollocks there:

  5. Tim, do you have any evidence that a British regulatory authority would have ruled differently? The UK’s Food Standards Agency, when presented with the same arguments, could easily have ruled the same way.

    Blame incompetent regulators? By all means. Blame the EU? Not nearly as clear.

    As I pointed out before, even without the EU we’d still want common standards for product labelling. So we’d choose to set up an international food labelling body, and an appeals court. We could easily end up with the same ruling even without the EU.

  6. Churm,

    Dehydration is a symptom – often of some diseases and conditions (i.e. severe burns, diarrhoea or diabetes.) It can also be caused, simply, by not drinking enough water to balance your perspiration and urinary outflows.

    The Prof, contrary to your assertion, is reported as stating “dehydration was usually caused by a clinical condition”, not that dehydration was a disease, “let’s call it” or actually. And, frankly, if you’re places regularly hotter than London, or if you take exercise, then you do actually need to drink more.

    Drinking water is unlikely to cure an underlying condition but may alleviate your symptoms. And, if the problem is merely a balance one, it is a necessary and sufficient alleviation. It isn’t the most efficient one – hence all the isotonic drinks and powders – but it does work.

  7. @Tim: Er, in what way does the Wikipedia entry on dehydration shed light on the situation? And please don’t respond by quoting the Wiki statement that “Dehydration is best avoided by drinking sufficient water” – because that involves exactly the imprecision of terms I mentioned.

    The German application specifically claimed that dehydration is a disease (yes, that’s the term they used) which drinking water can prevent.

    Now that really is bollocks. You must stop relying on the Telegraph and Mail for medical advice.

  8. @ Surreptitious Evil: Yes of course drinking water alleviates the symptom of dehydration. But that’s not what the German application was claiming, and it’s not what the EU disallowed.

  9. Interestingly, the EFSA website does not, in the section marked “Question Documents” actually have the question document. So it is rather difficult to tell what the questioners claimed.

    The panel, as their opinion makes clear, treated dehydration as a disease.

    In its opinion the Panel notes that dehydration was identified as the disease by the applicant and that the risk factor was proposed as “water loss in tissues” or “reduced water content in tissues”.

    As we are aware, with the possible exception of Churm, that dehydration is not a disease, treating it as one is insane. If I treated the Murphmeister as a world-renowned economist rather than a retired accountant …

  10. Reinforcements are on their way in the form of the new EC Directive on pollen content in honey which must be certified to be of non-GM origin.

    That will get the Krauts on the run.

    France is saved.

  11. @ Surreptitious Evil. As you point out, in its consideration of this application the panel considered the question of dehydration as a disease. Why? Because “dehydration was identified as the disease by the applicant.”

    You say this identification is “insane”. In which case the panel was fully justified in rejecting an application resting on “insane” grounds. So at least we are in agreement on the EU’s conclusions in this matter.

  12. So at least we are in agreement on the EU’s conclusions in this matter.

    No, actually. You’ve agreed with the EU panel that this is what was claimed in the application. You may very well be right.

    I’ve pointed out that we can’t read the application, because it isn’t in the place it should be on the official EU website. We are left, only, with the panel’s assessment. If Drs Hagenmeyer and Hahn claimed that dehydration was a disease then, unless EU rules forced them to in order to have an assessment of their clients putative claim that water is good against dehydration (remember carrots are fruit, apparently, against all biological taxonomy and common sense, so dehydration having to be a disease isn’t wholly implausible), then this claim should have been simply rejected on the grounds that “dehydration is not a disease therefore claims regarding alleviation or prevention of such are not required to be subject to rulings under ?Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006”.

    I say again (and I’m certainly not directing this at you) – if this, which isn’t denied, then why are homeopaths not being dragged in front of the courts for their obvious (or, in some cases, oblivious) charlatanry?

  13. Churm,

    Sorry, I missed off “as you well know, having been entirely appropriately pedantic on the subject during some of Tim’s previous rants on the jams, jellies and who-really-cares regulations.”

  14. @ Surreptitious Evil: Damn. You noticed that I’m a bit of a pedant. And I thought I’d got away with it.

    Yes, you’re right, I haven’t read the original application (which was presumably in German anyway, which I don’t speak). But I see no reason why EFSA should have formally and publicly misrepresented the German application – apart from anything else, that would give the Germans an opportunity to disregard or at the least to contest EFSA’s conclusions, which does not seem to have happened.

    My (entirely hypothetical) interpretation of events is that Cognis, which exists to serve the food industry, wanted to enable their bottled water clients to claim that drinking their (proprietary) bottled waters was positively healthful, and that in order to achieve formal recognition of this assertion they had to argue that dehydration was in itself a disease. Which is, as you have already pointed out, “insane”.

    In passing, I readily concede that my original post was a wild oversimplification, but if I have learned nothing else from this blog at least I’ve come to value trenchancy.

    My position on all this is pretty straightforward. I strongly believe that people should be completely free to eat, drink and be merry in any way they wish. But I also believe that it’s appropriate for the state, whether it be UK or European, to flag up the implications. So, for example, I don’t think smoking should be banned, but I entirely approve of health warnings on cigarette packets. Equally I’m against absurd health claims from food manufacturers, which is what I think (but can’t prove) is going on here.

  15. @ Surreptitious Evil: Oh, and on the subject of homeopathy, I’ve no in-principle objections to homeopaths advertising their services, or to people employing their services.

    But (and again I’m in danger of agreeing with you) I think that the state could (should?) usefully provide evidence-based information about the efficacy of such treatments.

  16. Andrew M.

    “As I pointed out before, even without the EU we’d still want common standards for product labelling.”

    No, why would we want to restrict the freedom of speach?

  17. Here’s the official publication from

    The claim proposed by the applicant was worded as follows: “Regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance”.

    When asked to clarify, the applicants (the two German professors who submitted the claim in the first place) explained that “water loss in tissues is a risk factor for dehydration”.

    The EFSA’s response is that “water loss in tissues is dehydration”. Compare that sentence with the one before. Water loss is not a risk factor for dehydration, it is dehydration. Therefore water does not reduce the risk of dehydration (but it may reduce dehydration itself).

    It’s tortuous legalese, but any government agency has to be legalistic and must draft laws as accurately as possible. Tim always agrees when it comes to tax laws.

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