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Nutrition and health claims in consumer information

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Nutrition claims draw consumers' attention to one or more characteristics of the product to encourage them to buy it. Sometimes these claims are false or may mislead the consumer. Future European legislation in this area will harmonise the presentation of these claims by requiring that they are scientifically substantiated.

PROPOSAL

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 July 2003 on nutrition and health claims made on foods.

SUMMARY

Claims are consumer information in labelling, presentation and advertising which inform the consumer of the characteristics of a food or of one of its constituents. The objective is to eliminate nutrition and health claims which are misleading or difficult for the consumer to understand. Nutrition and health claims for beverages with more than 1.2% of alcohol by volume will therefore be prohibited, with the exception of claims which refer to a reduction in the alcohol or energy content of an alcoholic beverage.

This proposal for a Regulation is intended to harmonise nutrition claims by drawing up a list of authorised claims.

The annex to the proposal contains definitions of authorised nutrition claims, specifying precise quantifiable values for each one. Claims listed in the annex include "low energy", "with no added sugars", "light" and "high fibre".

Health claims
The only health claims which will be accepted are those which can be proven scientifically following an assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). An exception is made for health claims which describe the role of a nutrient or other substance in growth, development and normal physiological functions of the body and are based on long-established and non-controversial science. A Community list of permitted claims will be drawn up for this type of claim.

The future Regulation will prohibit all health claims which relate to slimming or weight control, make psychological or behavioural references (for example "reduces stress"), references to doctors or their associations; and vague claims relating to general "wellbeing".

However, by way of derogation from Directive 2000/13/EC on labelling (which prohibits any reference to properties for the prevention, treatment or cure of a human disease), the proposal for a Regulation will authorise claims to reduce the risk of a disease, provided these are given EFSA and Community approval.

REFERENCES AND PROCEDURE

ProposalOfficial JournalProcedure
COM(2003) 0424-COD/2003/0165

RELATED ACTS

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 October 2003 on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain other substances to foods [COM(2003) 671 - Not published in the Official Journal].
It proposes that the nutrient profile of a food be a criterion for allowing the use of nutrition claims, for example when setting maximum levels of vitamins, minerals and other substances added to foods by manufacturers.

 
Last updated: 09.06.2006
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