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Nutrition and health claims made on foods

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Nutrition and health claims made on foods

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?

  • It seeks to regulate the claims* on foods labelled and advertised in the European Union (EU).
  • It aims to ensure that nutrition claims* and health claims* on food labels and in presentations and advertising are clear and based on evidence that is generally accepted by the scientific community.
  • There is a wide range of substances, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, fibre and herbal extracts, with a nutritional or physiological effect that might be present in a food and be the subject of a claim.
  • The regulation seeks to:
    • ensure a high level of consumer protection;
    • give the consumer the necessary information to make choices in full knowledge of the facts; and
    • create equal conditions of competition for the food industry.

KEY POINTS

The European Commission must draw up nutrient* profiles and conditions for the use of nutrition and health claims on foods, taking into account:

  • the quantities of nutrients and other substances* contained in the food, such as:
    • fatty acids,
    • saturated fatty acids,
    • trans-fatty acids,
    • sugars, and
    • salt;
  • the role and importance of the food in the diet in general or risk groups such as children;
  • the presence of nutrients scientifically recognised as having an effect on health.

Health claims should not:

  • be false, ambiguous or misleading;
  • give rise to doubt about the safety or nutritional adequacy of other foods;
  • encourage excess consumption;
  • suggest that a balanced and varied diet cannot provide appropriate quantities of nutrients;
  • make suggestions that health could be affected by not consuming the food;
  • refer to a rate or amount of weight loss;
  • refer to recommendations of individual health professionals.

The use of nutrition and health claims will only be allowed if the presence, absence or reduced content in a food of a substance has been shown to have a beneficial effect, as established by accepted scientific data. Such substances must be in quantities that can be reasonably consumed and in an amount to give the desired effect.

Health claims will only be allowed if the following information is on the label:

  • the target population for the claim;
  • a statement of the importance of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle;
  • the quantity and pattern of consumption needed to obtain the claimed beneficial effect;
  • a statement aimed at persons who should avoid consuming the food (e.g. pregnant women);
  • a warning for products likely to present a health risk if consumed to excess;
  • where reduced risk of disease is claimed, a statement that the disease has multiple risk factors and altering one of these may or may not have a beneficial effect;
  • any other restrictions or directions for use.

Health claims based on generally accepted scientific data, well understood by the average consumer, may be exempted from the authorisation process.

Drinks containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol must not bear any health or nutrition claims other than one referring to the reduction in the alcohol or energy content.

Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 provides for the list of permitted health claims, other than those related to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health. This regulation has applied since 14 December 2012 and is regularly amended to update the list of newly authorised health claims.

Application for authorisation

Any manufacturer may request the inclusion of a new claim to the permitted list by submitting an application to any EU country. The latter forwards it to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Commission then takes a decision on the use of the claim based on the EFSA’s scientific opinion.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 1 July 2007.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

* KEY TERMS

Claim: any message or representation, which is not mandatory under EU or national legislation, including pictorial, graphic or symbolic representation in any form that states, suggests or implies that a food has particular characteristics.

Nutrition claim: any claim that states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to:

  • the energy (calorific value) that it:
    • provides,
    • provides at a reduced or increased rate, or
    • does not provide; and/or
  • the nutrients or other substances that it:
    • contains,
    • contains in reduced or increased proportions, or
    • does not contain.

Health claim: any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health.

Nutrient: protein, carbohydrate, fat, fibre, sodium, vitamins and minerals listed in the annex to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, and substances that belong to or are components of one of those categories.

Other substance: a substance other than a nutrient that has a nutritional or physiological effect.

MAIN DOCUMENT

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 (OJ L 404, 30.12.2006, pp. 9-25)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

Commission 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 (OJ L 109 of 19.4.2008, pp. 11-16)

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 (OJ L 136, 25.5.2012, pp. 1-40). See consolidated version.

Commission Implementing Decision 2013/63/EU of 24 January 2013 adopting guidelines for the implementation of specific conditions for health claims laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 (OJ L 22, 25.1.2013, pp. 25-28)

last update 16.08.2016

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