It is that time of year when one starts venturing into the great outdoors more often and contemplating the garden. Leafing through a plant catalogue recently I was surprised to come across health claims in relation to promotion of blueberry bushes being sold as patio plants but also as sources of the fruit. Looking at a selection of further sources I found the fruit to be "the best health food", "a powerful vitamin source" and "health-giving"
Being a bit of a legal anorak I hastily dug out my legislation to consider the implications of this.
Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 controls claims in relation to food and refers back to Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 for the definition of food. This specifically excludes plants prior to harvesting, and thus the growing patio blueberry bush is not food.
The Food Standards Agency forward planning notes the Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulation 2007 are due to come into force in mid 2007 implementing enforcement of the EC Regulation and it will be interesting to review the powers granted to enforcement.
With the rising level of enquiry we are seeing at Leatherhead Food International regarding the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation it seemed right to consider what claims are likely to disappear first.
As far as I can tell the following will be among the first for the marketers to say goodbye to: X% Fat free (despite earlier opinions that this was misleading, it still exists); rate or amount of weight loss; claims that refer to recommendations of a particular doctor or health professional; and comparative claims in relation to non-comparable food groups.
In reality while companies are currently working hard to consider the application of the legislation UK consumers will not see the impact of the legislation for some time still.
Kath Veal is business manager, Regulatory and Technical Consultancy Services at Leatherhead Food International