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EU health and nutrition claims update

By Alex McNally , 23-Jul-2007

A one day conference to help businesses improve their understanding of how the European health and nutrition claims regulation will affect them has been called for later this year.

The health and nutrition claims (Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006), which came into force in the UK from 1 July 2007, means any food product claiming to have a health or nutritional benefit must meet a list of European Commission approved wording. Although the regulation came into force this month in the UK, the commission is not expected to agree a list of approved literature until the end of the year. Later this summer an orientation paper is due to be sent from the commission to member states with draft options. The scope of the changes will not just affect food packaging, but website content associated with the food as well. The regulation also covers foods which make a claim aimed at preventing disease. This workshop is the second to be organized by Health Claims Europe and will be held in Brussels in September. The programme includes updating companies with EFSA guidelines on how to submit a claim, as well as discussing any potential hurdles to overcome. Talks will also be held on what sort of studies would be needed for substantiating a health claim. Already the European Botanical Forum has said there needs to be changes to this regulation, which does not include any reference to the traditional use of botanicals as food ingredients. The group fears a whole range of botanicals maybe under threat. For example, teas containing plant extracts such as camomile may not be able to claim the drink was relaxing without a clinical trial being carried out. A review published earlier this month of current health and nutrition claims in English speaking countries found consumers struggle when it comes to understanding what the claim really means. Author EdComs found labelling was often misinterpreted by consumers, who are frequently unsure what the term 'low' meant and were likely to misinterpret '% fat free' claims.

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