Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE), the trade association that represents the interests of dietetic food manufacturers across the EU, has voiced concerns about the ‘current legal uncertainty’ surrounding slimming foods for overweight and obese consumers.
“It is essential that European decision makers adopt a balanced and appropriate approach for all slimming food categories in order to ensure that overweight and obese consumers in Europe will continue to have access to the products they need to manage their specific dietary needs,” said SNE in a statement issued this week to coincide with the 21st European Congress on Obesity.
Aurélie Perrichet, executive director designate of SNE, told Nutraingredients that legislative uncertainty around total and partial meal replacements must be resolved, as these slimming products fall outside the scope of Regulation 609/2013 on Foods for Special Groups which was adopted in June 2013.
“Total and partial meal replacements represent a significant part of the slimming foods market, notably in Latin countries.”
Move to general food law
With the repeal of the legislation on PARNUTS (foods for particular nutritional uses) and slimming foods (2009/39 EC and 96/8 EC) in mid 2016, partial and full meal replacements will be governed by general food law.
However SNE is convinced that slimming foods need an, “adapted legislative framework that recognises the specific nature of these products and is able to protect consumers against products that do not offer the necessary assurance for their appropriate and effective use in the vulnerable populations that the previous legislation provided for.”
“Previous provisions for the composition, labelling and claims on existing categories of slimming foods did provide safe products, clearly distinguishable from common foods, in which consumers could have confidence,” said Perrichet.
Adequate and appropriate amendments
She said that in order for, “the same level of guarantee” to be transferred under general food law, “amendments to accommodate the specific nature of these products” would have to be made to the Food Information for Consumers Act (FIC) and the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).
At present, Perrichet said companies don’t know which regulations will be adapted, or whether requirements such as legal denomination, nutritional composition, consumer information and conditions of use will remain the same.
“Companies will have only two years to adapt their products to these as yet unknown requirements.”
There is also legal uncertainty around ‘low calorie diets’ and ‘very low calorie diets’, which are covered by the Foods for Special Groups Regulation. The industry is currently awaiting a scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – expected December 2014 - after which the European Commission will publish delegated acts to finalise the legislative future for these types of slimming foods.