Nutrient profiles define what products can make claims relating to nutritional content, based on their levels of fat, sugar or salt. The idea is that a product that is exceptionally high in one of these nutrients that should be consumed in moderation, it may not be labelled a ‘low in fat’, say, or ‘low in sugar’. Profiles would also be used in the new health claims regulation, as products exceeding levels of these nutrients would not be able to make positive claims.
Rapporteur for the Parliament’s Envi committee deleted the requirement for nutrient profiles to be established in her amendments, on which Envi voted in March.
In a vote following the first hearing at the parliamentary session in Strasbourg yesterday, however, MEPs voted to keep nutrient profiles in.
A statement from the Parliament said: “By a single vote, MEPs rejected an Environment Committee recommendation to delete nutrient profiles from existing EU nutrition health claims legislation. Considered unscientific by its critics, the system is seen by others as essential to assess health claims.”
Heart health lobby
The European Heart Network has send a letter to MEPs prior to the vote asking them to reject the removal of nutrient profiles. The network’s director Susanne Løgstrup wrote:
“Without nutrient profiles, products that are high in fat, sugar or salt may be able to bear claims and this misleads people as to the true nature of the product. Considering the crushing burden of chronic diseases in Europe, it is vital that only products that are overall healthy should be allowed to bear claims.
“Nutrient profiles play a vital role in guiding people towards the healthier option. The absence of nutrient profiles undermines the provision of proper information on product benefits to consumers.”
She argues that nutrient profiling is well-recognised in the scientific literature, and many models exist on how to establish them. “They show that nutrient profiling models that are based on both positive and negative nutrients provide a realistic picture of the nutrition quality of a product.”