Warning: inconsistency in health claims approvals

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Lack of nutrient profiles have adversely hit a health claim for carbs/sugar
Lack of nutrient profiles have adversely hit a health claim for carbs/sugar

Related tags Health claims Nutrition

The EU’s failure to introduce a system of nutrient profiling is resulting in “inconsistency” in health claims approvals for food and drink, it has emerged.

Plans to introduce nutrient profiles as a way of determining which food and drink might be allowed to make health claims appear to have been abandoned by the European Commission, according a partner at law firm Eversheds.

‘Kicked into the long grass’

Nutrient profiles “have probably been kicked into the long grass”​, said Katharine Vickery, a partner in Eversheds’ compliance and enforcement division at a food and drink seminar organised by the firm in London last month. “There appears to be other things they​ [the EC] are concentrating on.”

Vickery noted that the EU had demonstrated inconsistency by the European Parliament rejecting a health claim linking carbohydrate consumption to the maintenance of normal brain function after it was approved by the European Food Safety Authority, while a health claim in relation to blood from Barry Callebaut for flavanols in dark chocolate and cocoa beverages had also recently been approved.

“I think that is very surprising,”​ said Vickery, who suggested it was rejected "because they didn’t want people to think they were approving and sanctioning claims that related to the intake of sugar”​.

Contradict obesity arguments

She added: “They felt it might contradict some of the obesity arguments that are out there at the moment. So they pushed back and are trying to put some restrictions on it. Products that are trying to make this claim should be restricted so that they comply with the nutrition claims for no added sugar or low sugar.”

A delegate from a leading soft drinks company said: “I wonder if we are almost paying the price of not getting a nutrient profile. If we had nutrient profiles it would be easy to work out if you had more than a certain amount of carbohydrate or fat or anything else and then you would not be able to make a claim.”

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