Nutrition and health claims made on foods

  

A new EU regulation on nutrition and health claims, such as 'low fat', 'helps your body resist stress' or 'purifies your organism', entered into force on 1 July 2007.

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Overview

In the food sector producers sometimes use claims such as "low fat", "helps your body resist stress" or "purifies your organism", which either cannot be scientifically substantiated or contain only a partial truth regarding the health effects of food products. For example, a product may be low in fat but contain high quantities of sugar or salt. This can be misleading to consumers. 

In order to prevent unfounded claims on food packages and to ensure effective functioning of the internal market as regards to nutrition and health claims, the Commission adopted in July 2003 a new legislative proposal aimed at tackling unsubstantiated claims made on food. This proposal builds on the international guidelines of Codex Alimentarius, which sets out that food cannot be described or presented in a misleading manner and that the person marketing the food should be able to justify the claim made. The Codex Guidelines prohibit a list of claims, such as unsubstantiated claims, as well as claims regarding the suitability of foods for use in the prevention, treatment or cure of a disease (with exceptions).

The proposal covers two categories of claims: nutrition claims (such as "rich in vitamin C" and "low in fat") and health claims (such as "good for your beauty and your inner harmony") and proposes allowing a category of previously prohibited claims relating to the reduction of disease risk.

It only covers food products for human consumption and does not deal with cosmetics, medicine and pet food products.

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