EU publishes list of permitted health claims about food

26 May 2012 - 12:09pm -- Gerry Danby

Health claims on food labelling and in advertising have become important marketing tools. The EU believes consumers expect accurate information about products and, in particular, any health claims made. A ‘health’ claim is any statement about a relationship between food and health. Food producers who claim health benefits for their products need to take note. The long awaited EU list of permitted health claims for food has now been published and, from 14 December 2012, only health claims that are on the list will be permitted subject to any conditions or restrictions stated. The EU authorises health claims on the basis they can be scientifically supported and easily understood by consumers. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) evaluates the scientific evidence supporting health claims and provides advice. The list is maintained pursuant to Article 13 of  Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 which deals with the so-called 'function' health claims describing or referring to:

  • The role of a nutrient or other substance in growth, development and the functions of the body.
  • Psychological and behavioural functions.
  • Slimming or weight control or a reduction in the sense of hunger.

The final list contains 222 authorised health claims (‘calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones’ and ‘iron contributes to the normal function of the immune system’ are just two examples) and sets out the conditions under which claims can be used. EFSA considered over 2,700 claims submitted by the EU Member States who originally provided over 44,000 claims. There is some flexibility in the wording of a claim, provided it has the same meaning as provided in the list and is not misleading. Claims may also only be made for a nutrient or food in a product and not the product itself. This is yet another area, for those producers making health claims, to review and, where necessary, update any labelling affected. You have six months before local enforcement authorities may start taking an interest.   Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. Regulation (EU) 432/2012 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. EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on food

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