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Nutrition and health claims

This Regulation establishes rules aimed at harmonising nutrition and health claims at a European level for the first time. From now on, this of claim on food labelling, presentation and advertising must be clear, concise and based on evidence accepted by the whole scientific community.

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

Nutrition and health claims of the type “WITH NO ADDED SUGAR”, “FAT-FREE” and “calcium is needed for the normal growth and development of bone in children”, etc. are harmonised at European level in order to guarantee the functioning of the internal market, whilst ensuring a high level of consumer protection.

The nutritional and health claims involved

This Regulation applies to all nutrition and health claims including:

  • commercial communications (labelling, presentation and promotional campaigns);
  • trade marks and other brand names which may be construed as nutrition or health claims.

It applies to claims relating to all types of food intended for final consumers, including foods intended for supply to restaurants, hospitals, canteens etc.

Consumer protection

The legislation on nutrition and health claims protects consumers by prohibiting any information which:

  • is false, difficult to understand or misleading (e.g. which attributes medicinal properties to food wrongly or without scientific evidence);
  • casts doubt on the safety or nutritional adequacy of other foods;
  • encourages or condones excessive consumption of a food;
  • encourages consumption of a food by stating or suggesting directly or indirectly that a balanced diet does not provide all the nutrients that are needed;
  • attempts to scare consumers by mentioning changes in bodily functions.

Mandatory nutrition declaration

Nutrition labelling is mandatory on products for which a nutritional claim and/or health claim is made, with the exception of generic advertising.

In accordance with the provisions of Directive 90/496/EEC relating to nutrition labelling on foodstuffs, the mandatory nutrition declaration must include the following information:

  • the energy value; and
  • the amounts of fats, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and salt.

From 13 December 2016, Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 will make nutrition labelling obligatory, whether or not the foodstuff carries nutrition or health claims.

General conditions of use

Nutritional and health claims must meet the following conditions:

  • the presence, absence or reduced content of a nutrient or other substance in respect of which the claim is made must have a beneficial nutritional or physiological effect, and be scientifically proven;
  • the nutrient or substance in respect of which the claim is made is present in significant quantities in order to produce the nutritional or physiological effect claimed;
  • the nutrient or substance in respect of which the claim is made is in an immediately consumable form;
  • the specific conditions of use must be complied with, for example, the active substance (e.g. vitamins, fibres, etc.) must be present in sufficient quantity in the food to have beneficial effects.

Nutritional and health claims relating to beverages containing more than 1.2 % of alcohol by volume are prohibited, with the exception of those which refer to a reduction in the alcohol or energy content of an alcoholic beverage.

Specific conditions of use

Only the nutritional claims listed in the Annex to this Regulation are authorised. Comparative nutritional claims are possible for foods in the same category. Moreover, if the claim relates to a reduction of the energy value or the nutrient content, it must correspond to a reduction of at least 30 % (25 % for salt) in comparison to a similar product.

Health claims are subject to specific requirements. The labelling, presentation and publicity related to them must provide certain obligatory information:

  • a statement indicating the importance of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle;
  • the quantity of the food and pattern of consumption which will ensure the claimed beneficial effect;
  • a statement addressed to persons who should avoid the substance concerned;
  • a warning of the health risks caused by excessive consumption.

The Regulation prohibits health claims which refer to the rate (“lose 3 kg in one week”) or amount (“lose 3 kg”) of weight loss or suggest it is detrimental to health not to consume a certain type of food, references to an individual doctor or health professional or to associations other than national medical associations and health-related charities, and claims which suggest that health could be affected by not consuming the food.

Following Regulation on the labelling of foodstuffs, any reference to properties for the prevention, treatment or cure of a human disease is prohibited. However, in contrast, the Regulation authorises claims concerning the reduction of the risk of a disease, provided that an application for authorisation has been approved.

Application for authorisation

To obtain authorisation for a new claim or amend the existing list, the manufacturer must submit an application to the Member State concerned, which will forward it to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The Commission then makes a decision on the use of the claim on the basis of the EFSA’s opinion.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006

19.1.2007

1.7.2007

OJ L 404, 30.12.2006

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 107/2008

4.3.2008

-

OJ L 39, 13.2.2008

Regulation (EC) No 109/2008

4.3.2008

-

OJ L 39, 13.2.2008

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011

12.12.2011

-

OJ L 304, 22.11.2011

Regulation (EU) No. 1047/2012

29.11.2012

-

OJ L 310, 9.11.2012

RELATED ACTS

Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health Text [Official Journal L 136 of 25.5.2012]

Regulation (EC) No 353/2008 of 18 April 2008 establishing implementing rules for applications for authorisation of health claims as provided for in Article 15 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 109, 19.4.2008].
Amended by:
Regulation (EC) No 1169/2009 [Official Journal L 314 of 1.12.2009].
The Regulation identifies the conditions for establishing an application for authorisation of health claims. Each application for authorisation may only deal with one health claim. It includes a proposal for the wording of the claim and its conditions for use, as well as the scientific data which justifies it.

Last updated: 01.02.2013
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