Ease the nutrient profiling load

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrient profiling, Nutrition

With the recent hullabaloo about the EU back-tracking on nutrient profiling, I thought it might be interesting to highlight an academic paper just published online by the European journal of clinical nutrition.

It doesn't support the complicated EU nutrient profiling system. Using data from the UK National diet and nutrition survey, researchers from Oxford University concluded that most of the 13 EU categories were unnecessary because people with healthier diets mainly consume healthier foods from only five categories meat, dairy, bread, cereals and ready meals. It went on to say that models using a large number of categories are unhelpful in promoting a healthy diet.

Some argue that nutrient profiling is a vital part of the Health Claims Regulation (EC 1924/2006) and that the market will now be flooded with unhealthy products bearing health claims. However, the Oxford paper shows that healthy eaters consume more fruit and vegetables, fish and breakfast cereals (displacement) and healthier versions of just a handful of food categories (substitution).

So do we really need nutrient profiling in addition to the comprehensive EU rules on Health Claims? The take-home message is that consumers of unhealthy diets need to displace certain food categories and eat healthier versions of a relatively narrow range of food categories. This is in line with current dietary guidelines.

In my opinion, the nutrient profiling proposals were too complicated and over-restrictive. I doubt that scrapping the system will lead to a plethora of junk foods making health claims. EU regulations are still strict on this and I support the current requirement to back up health claims with science. However, I am pleased that innovation within the food industry to provide tasty, healthy foods will not be further stifled by an overburdensome nutrient profiling requirement.

Dr Paul Berryman 
is chief executive of 
Leatherhead Food 


Related topics: Legal

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