Energy drinks manufacturers could find their marketing plans thwarted by the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, Lucozade-maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has warned.
Scientific studies supported claims that Lucozade provided "brain and body energy", said Richard Ross, GSK director of legislation and procedural affairs. However, nutrient profiling clauses in the Regulation meant energy drinks could be prevented from making such claims because they were often high in sugar.
The European Food Safety Authority has said that exemptions may be allowed "for a limited number of categories". However, it is not clear whether energy drinks were one of the categories being considered for special treatment, said Ross. "We're lobbying hard on this front."
Some manufacturers appear to be trying to circumvent the Regulation by making 'soft claims' such as 'Red Bull gives you wings'. However, if these were regarded as implied health claims, they would have to be accompanied by approved health claims, said independent regulatory expert Neville Craddock.
Premier Foods recently launched 'Branstein' Beans (with omega-3). Tins feature a mortar board accompanied by wording about the beans being a 'smart' choice for consumers.
This implied the beans would benefit brain development, claimed Craddock. "In my opinion, the product should carry an approved health claim. I also see a serious risk that it could fall into the child development category [article 14 of the Regulation]."
Branston brand manager Rob Stacey admitted the company had avoided "overt" claims because the evidence about omega-3 and learning and concentration was insufficient. But he denied Premier Foods was trying to circumvent the Regulation.