Foods for sports people

Legislation pertaining to dietetic products for athletes

Foods intended for athletes are considered to be products designed for particular nutritional uses. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has issued a Decree on foods for particular nutritional uses (121/2010). Low-energy products, which are designed for athletes for consumption in small doses between meals and sold in the form of pills, capsules and powders are not foods for particular nutritional uses. Instead, they are provided for by the Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on food supplements (78/2010).

Dietetic products designed for athletes shall be suitable in their composition for use by athletes and shall fulfil the requirements of food laws. Dietetic products for athletes shall bear adequate labelling, which is consistent with regulations (Labelling Decree 1084/2004 / Food Information Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011). Labelling on food products marketed in Finland shall be provided in both Finnish and Swedish. Only authorised additives may be used in dietetic products for athletes, their contaminant levels may not exceed the specified maximum limits and they must be of good quality in all respects. The Annex to Regulation (EC) 953/2009 of the Commission lists the permitted compounds, which may be used as sources of vitamins, minerals and certain other nutrients in the production of dietetic products for athletes.

Dietetic products for athletes that are classified as food supplements are often similar to medicines in formulation, i.e. they are pills, capsules or herbal extracts, for example. Food supplements are not medicines, however, but food products. Food supplements include e.g. products designed for the supply of vitamins, minerals, fiber or fatty acids as well as herbal, garlic and bee products. The marketing of food supplements requires no authorisation and they are not subject to prior control, but a food supplement notification shall be submitted to the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira before a food supplement product is placed on the market. Evira's processing of the notification does not include an assessment of the compliance of the product composition or labelling with regulations.

Control of dietetic products for athletes

Food business operators are responsible for ensuring that their product is safe and complies with the requirements of food laws. Operator refers e.g. to the operator who produces the product, has it produced, or imports or markets it. The operator shall see to it that the notification referred to in the Food Act (23/2006, amendment 352/2011) is submitted of all food establishments in which food is stored, marketed or otherwise handled. The notification shall be submitted to the control authorities prior to the start of operation and prior to any essential changes in operation. The Food Act lists some exceptions that are exempt from the notification requirement (Section 13, Item 6).

The Food Act provides for the responsibility of the food business operators to have in-house control in place. The operator uses in-house control to verify that the operation fulfils the requirements laid down in legislation. The operators shall have adequate information about the products they produce and distribute and they shall identify in their operation all factors that can risk the safety of the food products. These risks and the planned risk management actions are described in the written in-house control plan. The operators shall comply with their in-house control plan and record the actions taken for the execution of the plan.

Regulatory control of dietetic products for athletes is one part of the food control referred to in the Food Act. In Finland, food control is primarily carried out by municipal control authorities. Control of imported food products is also carried out by the Customs.


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