German institute defends nutrient profiling for health claims

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrient profiles, Health claims, Nutrition

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfD) has defended
its proposals concerning nutrient profiles, one of the most
controversial elements of Europe's proposed health claims law.

The institute released its proposals earlier this week and has been quick to follow it up with explanations as to how and why such profiling is necessary within the health claims regulation, due to come into force on 1 July 2007. Nutrient profiling, also known as article 4, would prohibit health claims on any products high in salt, sugar or fat (saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids). The BfD states that nutrient profiles will serve as the scientific basis for claims of this kind. The concept has been vigorously attacked by many in the food industry who say that foods currently accepted as healthy, such as margarine with phytosterols, calcium-enriched fruit juice or iodised salt, would gain an unfavourable nutrient profile under this law. "The concept for nutrient profiles as the pre-requisite for health claims should be sensible and practicable and should not merely create new bureaucratic obstacles,"​ said the BfD. The institute also stated that the concept leaves room for exceptions to the rule for specific foods and food categories related to the importance of the food for diet, with no need to develop nutrient profiles for unprocessed foods like meat, fish, milk, fruit or vegetables. These foods may still be sold with health claims. The institute reiterated that the impending health claims regulations would harmonise nutrition and health claims across the EU, which is likely to facilitate the classification of the products by the official food control authorities. "Industry faces a challenge, too. If scientific proof can be provided, then in the future industry will be able to use claims not only about the physiological function of a nutrient ("Calcium is important for healthy bones") but also claims about reducing the risk of disease ("Adequate calcium intake can reduce the risk of osteoporosis"). Claims like this are currently banned in Germany,"​ said the institute.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy, Suppliers

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