Sweden: Even restaurant menus can be health claims

By Shane STARLING contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health claims, Nutrition

NFA: “Even menus in restaurants [can be] commercial messages.”
NFA: “Even menus in restaurants [can be] commercial messages.”
Even restaurant menus can bear unauthorised health claims, according to guidance issued by Swedish authorities.

“Examples of information that is subject to the labeling [are] presentation of food, trademarks, other brand names, advertising, generic advertising and generic advertising campaigns (such as fully or partially supported by public authorities),”​ wrote the Sedish National Food Agency (NFA)

“Even menus in restaurants [can be] commercial messages.”

“If nutrition and health claims are made through menus or other information on certain dishes or ingredients these are also covered by this regulation.”

In a long document the NFA also said that unpackaged foods sold to, “the final consumer or to mass caterers” ​could bear health claims via signs or other means, if they were verified.

“The conditions for making nutrition or health claims are the same whether the foods are packaged or unpackaged.”

Probiotics and antioxidants

In the claim-less probiotic and prebiotic realm, the NFA echoed recent guidance from Irish authorities in noting that product descriptors like ‘active bacterial cultures’, despite frequent use, were not permitted under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).

The very terms ‘probiotic’ and ‘antioxidant’ are deemed implied, prohibited health claims under that regulation – at least until specific claims are won.

Such terms, the agency said, were, “non-specific health claims” that “lack an associated authorised health claim and are therefore unlawful.”

Similarly ‘antioxidants’ are deemed unauthorised, implied claims – although the NFA acknowledged that certain vitamins and olive oil polyphenols have won claims centred around "oxidative stress".

“The term ‘antioxidant’ may be permitted to use that Article 10.3 [NHCR] assertion only for substances that have been approved health claim on oxidative stress, and subject to Article 13.1, the claim is made in accordance with the rules and that consumers are not misled on the health effect.”

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