Opus 2, nutrition claims under the microscope

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In the 2000s there was an urgent need to regulate the market of those claims, as a result of the multiplication of vague and sometimes misleading allegations such as “50% fat-free”. Therefore, the European Commission decided to introduce binding conditions to use claims in relation to the energy, nutrients or other substances contained in the food.

In accordance with the Regulation (EC) n°1924/2006 on Nutrition and Health Claims​ made on foods “nutrition claims” are defined as any message or representation including pictorial, graphic or symbolic representation, not mandatory under EU or national law, which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties. These benefits can be due to the energy the food provides – or not – or provides at a reduced or increased rate and/or the nutrients and other substances the food contains – or not – or contains in reduced or increased proportions.

Only authorized nutrition claims listed in the Annex of the NHC Regulation, or any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, can be used. Accordingly, claims such as “energy-free”, “low sugars” or “contain Vitamin D” must comply with the specific conditions set-out in the Annex of the Regulation.

Only the European Commission may amend the list of approved nutrition claims. This differs from health claims, for which applicants can submit a dossier to request an update of the Community list. In addition, nutrition claims must comply with the general requirements such as not being false, ambiguous or misleading. For instance, if a claim is made in relation to nutrients or other substances, the said nutrient or other substance  must be  in a form that is available to be used by the body.

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