The changes were proposed by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) back in March and called on the Commission to, if appropriate, “eliminate the concept of nutrient profiles”.
In its suggestions to JURI, the ENVI committee called for the Commission to “review the scientific basis of this [health claim] regulation and how useful and realistic it is” given the “serious and persistent problems” with its implementation including problems of distorted competition.
However this morning the Legal Affairs committee (JURI) members rejected the amendments in a show of hands vote.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), which had been campaigning against the changes, said the “clear” decision meant the 2006 regulation had been “safeguarded”.
Ilaria Passarani, head of BEUC’s food and health division, said: "Nutrient profiles are key to ensuring that consumers are not misled by unhealthy foods making spurious health claims.
"We now urge the European Commission to develop the long awaited nutrient profiles which should have been in place since 2009, as required by the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation."
UK Labour MEP and ENVI committee member Glenis Willmott was one of the few ENVI members who voted against the changes back in March. Reacting to this latest vote, she told us she was delighted JURI had "sensibly rejected this attempt to undermine rules on health claims and question the relevance of nutrient profiles, even in the face of heavy industry lobbying".
"Nutrient profiles are needed to make sure that foods that are high in sugar, far or salt and essentially unhealthy cannot carry a health claim."
She echoed BEUC's call for pressure to be put on the Commission to finally set the nutrient profiles.
The vote came as part of the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), which sought to "simplify and rationalise" the EU regulatory framework and included a reference to nutrient profiles.
The basic premise of the nutrient profiles was that they should ensure health claims could only be made on healthy foods fitting a set profile in terms of salt, fat and sugar. This was written into the 2006 regulation and an initial deadline of 2009 was set for their creation. However, six years on and the profiles still haven't been set.
The REFIT report will now go to a plenary session in Strasbourg where it will be put to another vote. Since the report is self-tasked it is not legally binding, although the Commission is required to take a position.