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Nutrition and Health Claims

Background:
A new European Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006) on nutrition and health claims made on foods marketed within the European Union, was introduced into law in January 2007. This Regulation has a wide scope and will cover the use of all wording and symbols which imply that a food provides a particular nutritional or health benefit. It also applies to nutrition and health claims made in commercial communications whether in the labelling, presentation or advertising of foods to be delivered to the final consumer. It is the responsibility of all food business operators to ensure claims they make on foods are compliant with the new Regulation. Claims that are not compliant will not be permitted.

This regulation sets EU-wide conditions for the use of nutrition claims such as "low fat" and health claims such as "helps lower cholesterol" based on nutrient profiles.  Claims may only be used if a food product meets a certain profile, i.e. appropriate ratios of salt, fat and sugar.  These profiles should be developed within two years of the regulation entering into force, based on an opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Nutrition Claims:

A list of authorised nutrition claims and the conditions for use is published in the Annex to regulation 1924/2006.  Commission Regulation 116/2010 expands the list of nutrition claims authorized in the EU and sets out conditions of use for the nutrition claims “source of omega-3 fatty acids”, “high omega-3 fatty acids”, “high monounsaturated fat”, “high polyunsaturated fat” and “high unsaturated fat”.  

Health Claims:

Within three years of the regulation entering into force, the Commission will compile an EU positive list of well-established health claims such as "calcium is good for your bones".  Disease reduction claims and claims referring to the health of children require full authorisation on a case-by-case basis, following the submission of a scientific dossier to EFSA.

Commission Regulation 353/2008, establishes implementing rules for applications for authorization of health claims.  Commission Regulation 1169/2009 amends Regulation 353/2008 as regards the verification of the validity of applications by the Member States and withdrawal of applications. 

The Community Register of authorized and rejected health claims is now available on DG Sanco's website.

Timetable

The original timetable foreseen within the Regulation is as follows, however, there have been delays in implementation of some aspects of the rules.