EC: Brand names can be health claims

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health claims Nutrition Advertising Ec Unilever

Brand names such as Unilever’s Slim.Fast can be interpreted as health claims but the manner of interpretation is not yet set in tone, with further discussions required, according to the European Commission.

An EC spokesperson told that the context of use would play an important role in determining whether brand names could find them find themselves falling foul of the 2006 nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) in the European Union.

An EC health claims expert said he believed the brand name Slim.Fast was itself a health claim, although Unilever said this was not the case because it does not make any, “precise claim about the rate and amount of weight loss consumers will experience when using this brand.”

The EC spokesperson said brand names could be taken as health claims depending on the context in which the claim was being made.

Further discussion

“There have not been so many cases to date and it requires further discussion,"​ the spokesperson said.

He added: "The Regulation foresees that brand names/trademarks or fancy names should comply with the Regulation if they may be perceived as health or nutrition claims (Article 1.3). Given that we have a broad definition of health claims, namely, any claim stating, suggesting or implying a relationship between the food and health and taking into account that Article 13.1.c of the Regulation explicitly foresees slimming/ weight control health claims, a brand name as Slim.Fast​can be understood as being a health claim."

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently raised the issue in a ruling against a multivitamin food supplement called Diabetone that its manufacturer Vitabiotics targets at diabetics.

The ASA said it was, “concerned that the name of the product, Diabetone, when used in an ad, implied the product was a treatment for diabetes.”

The product is in fact marketed as a sugar-free multivitamin suitable for use by diabetics.

The NHCR states brand names that do not comply with the regulation must be changed before January 19, 2022.

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