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Nutrition labels

Designing products for nutrition and health claims

When designing products with nutrition or health claims in mind, or thinking about retrospectively adding a claim to an existing product, it is important that you fully understand the legislation involved, and the effects this could have on how you formulate your product or how you phrase the claims that you are making about it. Legislation could persuade you that a small change is required to your ingredients, but this small change may in fact lead to the product becoming less stable or less appealing to the consumer. It may result in a complete reformulation being required to achieve the desired end–point.


Product development requires a holistic approach, incorporating consumer acceptability, commercial viability, technical feasibility and legal compliance. For a general introduction to product development, Campden BRI’s Product Development Guide (Guideline 8 2nd edition, 2007) is still of relevance.


This paper will highlight key aspects to consider when designing products for nutrition and health claims in Europe, which could save time and investment further along the development process. Although not discussed in this paper, it is important to note that, as with other aspects of global trading, the regulation of health and nutrition claims will differ outside Europe. For example, in the United States claims are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration and in Japan by the Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare.


Introduction


The use of health and nutrition claims on food and drink packaging, or in any advertising of food and drink products, has received a great deal of attention in recent years. This practice was subject only to general rules preventing false or misleading labelling information in Europe until 2007, after which Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims (European Commission, 2006) was adopted. This Regulation states that nutrition and health claims must be reviewed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies. Only claims deemed to be scientifically substantiated and authorised by the European Commission (EC) may be permitted for use in the EU.


Authorised nutrition claims can be found in the annex of Regulation 1924/2006. Following a lengthy review of more than 44,000 general function health claims, the EU register of health claims was published in May 2012 (European Commission, 2012). From 14 December 2012 any unauthorised health claims that are not listed are no longer permitted for use on products sold in the EU. The EU register also includes the outcome of separate EC evaluations of health claims relating to new science or proprietary data, reduction of disease risk and children's development and health.


These published lists offer opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers to use authorised claims on current products (providing the conditions of use are met) or to reformulate in order to comply with the conditions. Another opportunity exists to submit a dossier for review in relation to new science or proprietary data, reduction of disease risk and children's development and health claims.