EHPM pleads to stop nutrient profiling of supplements

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrient profiling, Nutrition, European food safety authority

As the European Food Safety Authority prepares its opinion on the
feasibility of nutrient profiling, the trade organisation EHPM has
asked that food supplements should be exempted from the rule.

The profiling system was set up to determine which foodstuffs will be prohibited or further restricted from making nutrition or health claims based on their sugar, fat and salt content. But the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) said the system should not apply to supplements as the levels of these substances are generally very low or absent. The concept of nutrient profiling was introduced to address concerns that health claims on foods high in these substances would lead to more consumption and contribute to rising obesity levels. Nutrient profiling, also known as article 4, would prohibit health claims on any products high in salt, sugar or fat. 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 unfavorable nutrient profile under this law. The EHPM's plea reinforces those fears, but if their request is taken on board by EFSA, then the worry for supplement manufacturers would be brought to an end. One of the main areas of contention for industry has been the fact that the nutrient profiling concept has raised more questions than it has answered. This August food law consultancy firm EAS said "What we have for the moment is a long list of questions: Should profiles be established across all foods or per food category? And how would you determine the relevant food categories? What nutrients should be taken into account?"To date EFSA has yet to come up with any answers.​ The EFSA is assessing the feasibility of the model and will provide its opinion to the European Commission by the end of January. EHPM chairman Peter van Doorn said: "The setting of nutrient profiles is a very complex, highly contentious matter. "EFSA is still determining which food categories will be subject to the system, but we trust they will agree that food supplements should be exempted." "Even in the case of supplements such as fish oils which have a high fat content we believe the exemption should remain, because food supplements are generally not seen as the main contributors to the normal diet.​" The system is expected to be in place by the beginning of 2009.

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