After a protracted period of debate and compromise, the Health and Nutrition Claims Regulation was voted through by the European Parliament in May. The Commission is due to vote on it in September, and the regulation could then come into force before the year is out and be applied six months afterwards.
The regulation should ease cross border sales of healthy food products within the bloc, but Miguel Fernandez da Silva, an advisor for European Advisory Services (EAS), told NutraIngredients.com that his organisation has been approached by companies concerned about whether or not they will be able to keep their existing claims under the new regulation.
EAS is planning a one-day workshop in Brussels on September 13, which will help deal with concerns, focus on the practicalities of health claims submissions, and looking how the regulation will link in with other EU laws, such as fortification.
One of the areas of debate concerned trademarks. The Parliament had wanted trademarks to be excluded, since many companies have spent years and much resources on building recognition, and it would be confusing for consumers who already recognise the health associations if they were suddenly pulled of the shelf.
Under the compromise package trademarks are to be included in the regulation, but those that have were already on the market before January 2005 a 15-year window to comply.
Silva told NutraIngredients.com that EFSA - the European Foods Standards Agency which is to be charged with assessing new claims not on the original positive list to be drawn up by the Commission - is also to establish nutrient profiles based on scientific opinion.
It has 24 months from the regulation entering into force to consult the relevant stakeholders, and present proposals member state experts in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.
EFSA's nutrient panel is due to have its first meeting on September 4, at which scientists are to discuss a work program.
Pursuant to this, EFSA is already planning a seminar for industry views; a date has yet to be set, but it could be before the end of this year.
Information on the EAS workshop is available online.