Health Claims Regulation: Opportunities and Challenges in Europe
An increasing number of foods sold in the European Union (EU) carry nutrition and health claims. A nutrition claim states or suggests that a food has beneficial nutritional properties, such as “low fat”, “no added sugar” and “high in fibre”. A health claim is any statement on labels, advertising or other marketing products that implies health benefits can result from consuming a given food, for instance one that can help reinforce the body's natural defences or enhance learning ability. In December 2006, the EU adopted Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, which established harmonised rules for the use of health or nutritional claims on foodstuffs, and processes for establishing the scientific validity of such claims. A key objective of this Regulation was to ensure that any claim made on a food label in the EU is clear and substantiated by scientific evidence. This chapter summarises these rules with reference to several EU-funded projects, in particular BACCHUS, which provided support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) considering whether to use or apply for health claims, and CLYMBOL, which explored how health-related information, provided through claims and symbols, affects consumer understanding, purchases and consumption.