An increasing number of foods sold in the EU bear nutrition and health claims. A nutrition claim states or suggests that a food has beneficial nutritional properties, such as “low fat”, “no added sugar” and “high in fibre”. A health claim is any statement on labels, advertising or other marketing products that health benefits can result from consuming a given food, for instance that a food can help reinforce the body’s natural defences or enhance learning ability.
In December 2006 EU decision makers adopted a Regulation on the use of nutrition and health claims for foods which lays down harmonised EU-wide rules for the use of health or nutritional claims on foodstuffs based on nutrient profiles. Nutrient profiles are nutritional requirements that foods must meet in order to bear nutrition and health claims. One of the key objectives of this Regulation is to ensure that any claim made on a food label in the EU is clear and substantiated by scientific evidence.
- Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods
- Commission Regulation No 353/2008 establishing implementing rules for applications for authorisation of health claims
- Commission Regulation No 1169/2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 353/2008 establishing implementing rules for applications for authorisation of health claims
EFSA’s work includes providing scientific advice on:
- General function health claims under Article 13.1 of the EU Regulation
- New function health claims under Article 13.5 of the EU Regulation
- Claims regarding disease risk reduction and child development or health under Article 14 of the EU Regulation
- Criteria for setting nutrient profiles
EFSA is responsible for verifying the scientific substantiation of the submitted claims, some of which are currently in use, some of which are proposed by applicants – companies who want to submit claims for authorisation in the EU. This information serves as a basis for the European Commission and Member States, which will then decide whether to authorise the claims.
Guidance for applicants and engagement with stakeholders
EFSA has prepared guidance on how to submit claims applications, following an extensive consultation process with industry and other interested parties.
EFSA has been engaging regularly with stakeholders to outline and clarify where needed the process followed by the NDA Panel in the evaluation of claims, and has been providing guidance in this field since 2007 through guidance, briefing documents and the holding of scientific meetings.