Dr Mark J Tallon, principal at Nutrisciences, said low-GI (Glycaemic Index) claims, and other weight management and sports claims such as isotonic and hypotonic claims are under threat, as they do not appear on the nutrient claims annex that includes low-fat, energy reduced, salt-free, source of fibre and source of protein.
“For those in the weight management or sports nutrition market, labelling and other forms of commercial communication using such claims could be removed by enforcement agencies,” Tallon said.
“For claims already listed in the Annex conditions of use (a form of nutrient profiling) are already in place; as such it is possible nutrition claims in use throughout the EU not listed in the Annex are illegal.”
But he said his contact with UK enforcement agencies had indicated they were taking a pragmatic approach to enforcement in recognition of the changeability of transition periods.
‘Transitional allowances are still clearly in existence for functional claims for a few reasons, including the lack of a comprehensive adoption of the community list referred to in article 13.3 and the failure of EFSA to meet its own responsibilities regarding the adoption of nutrient profiles,” Tallon said.
Articled 13.3 relates to the adoption of a central list of claims within the European Union and references “non-essential elements” of the regulation that may require amendment at some point in time.
Tallon, who has advised companies on claim submissions in the sports nutrition and weight management area, said small and medium enterprises should seek guidance from their local member state authorities if in doubt about the status of their claims.
In the UK, LACORS (the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services), the government agency responsible for overseeing local authority regulatory and related services, is developing claims guidance for local authorities.
“I expect the guidance to take a pragmatic approach simply because clarification from the EC has been less than transparent,” Tallon said. “Those in charge of enforcement are acutely aware of the concern over this regulation and the potential impact on trade.”
EFSA is yet to hand in a positive opinion on any weight management health claim dossier under article 13.1 (generic), article 13.5 (proprietary and emerging science) or article 14 (disease reduction and children's health).