Reformulate restrictions

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health claims regulation, European union, Uk, Mintel

Reformulate restrictions
Thanks to your efforts, the UK is now acknowledged to be leading the world in reformulation. Reassuringly, research by Mintel says that nearly 250...

Thanks to your efforts, the UK is now acknowledged to be leading the world in reformulation. Reassuringly, research by Mintel says that nearly 250 reformulated products were launched in the first six months of this year - similar to 2008.

Nevertheless, we are also asking policy makers to be realistic about how much more they can ask of our sector in terms of further, expensive, investments.

There are issues too in how far firms can keep pushing the technical barriers without making compromises that consumers will reject. Other trends can also restrict further innovation, such as demands for 'naturalness' in products.

But one of the biggest disincentives to future reformulation relates to the many restrictions our sector now faces on the marketing of food products.

For instance: it cannot make any sense that, from next January, it will be illegal for manufacturers to tell consumers if their brand does not contain added salt, or to call their product 'extra light' or to highlight if it is free of trans fats.

Such consumer messages clearly support government policy on product reformulation and would help industry communicate its achievements.

As things stand, they will no longer be permitted under the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation. Unless the UK government can work with its counterparts in Europe to amend the Regulation as a matter of urgency or to extend the transition period to allow time for it to be changed.

Rest assured that we are raising our concerns here in the UK and with the Commission. But with less than six months left to go before these new rules come into force, we are worried that, as the regulators dither, most companies will have already been changing their packaging or their new product development programmes. And that's a pretty frustrating state of affairs for a sector that is in the business of delivering the right goods for consumers.

Julian Hunt director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation