Nutrient profiling back on EU agenda, says policy expert

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Nutrient profiling back on EU agenda, says policy expert

Related tags Health claims regulation European union

The European Commission’s work to create a nutrient profiling system to restrict claims on certain foods will once again come up for discussion in 2013 when the Commission presents its second proposal on the issue, says a leading policy expert.

The long overdue nutritional profiling system needed to complete the 2006 Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation could take shape in 2013, after the Commission has carried out a fresh impact assessment.

However, with more than 222 health claims set to enter law records this year, the biggest food players are being joined by health NGOs such as the British Heart Foundation in calling for a quick resolution to the protracted and potentially damaging deliberations that are creating confusion about which products may and may not carry approved claims.

Commenting on the Commission’s plans to present a second proposal for the establishment of nutrient profiles in 2013 – the first having been discarded in 2009 due to strong internal and external opposition – EAS Global Director of Health and Nutrition Policy Miguel da Silva said it would be interesting to see whether the new proposal would be able to accommodate most of the criticism and offer scientifically sound solutions to all of the issues that led to the withdrawal of the first proposal.
“The process of developing nutrient profiles is scientifically complex, and when the first draft proposals were presented for discussion in 2008 and 2009 there were serious concerns within the Council, the Parliament and the Commission itself, largely because the discussions increasingly became more political than scientific,”​ said da Silva. 
“It will be interesting to see whether the next proposal ignites the same level of controversy, or whether it will take the EU a step closer towards a nutrient profiling system, albeit years later than originally planned within the Regulation,”​ he said.
The EAS policy expert said flaws have been highlighted in previously suggested model, and there are concerns “that the system could go on to be used to discriminate between certain foods in other applications, such as advertising and vending restrictions and taxation.”
The provision for nutrient profiles within the EU’s Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation originally required the European Commission to create a profiling system for nutrients by January 2009 – to restrict products considered to be “unhealthy”​ from making nutrition and/or health claims.

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