Foods for weight reduction
Foods for use in energy-restricted diets for weight reduction include:
1) Products for weight control
- total diet replacement products (replacement for the whole of the daily diet)
- meal replacement products (replacement for one or more meals of the daily diet)
2) Other foods for particular nutritional uses intended for weight reduction
- VLCD products (very low calorie diet products)
Products for weight control
Weight control products are foods for particular nutritional uses intended for weight reduction and specifically developed for a low calorie diet, which when used in compliance with the manufacturer's instructions can be used as a replacement for the whole of the daily diet or for one or more meals of the daily diet.
Decision 904/1997 of the Ministry of Trade and Industry lays down requirements for the composition, packing and labelling of the products. The decision is based on Commission Directive on foods intended for use in energy-restricted diets for weight reduction (96/8/EY).
Weight control products can be sold under the name of total diet replacement product or meal replacement product. As suggested by the name, total diet replacement products are intended as a replacement for the whole of the daily diet and meal replacement products as a replacement for one or more meals of the daily diet. Products other than total diet replacement products and meal replacement products cannot be marketed as weight control products.
Weight control products may be marketed provided they meet the requirements laid down in Decision 904/1997 of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. For example, the package shall contain instructions for preparation, an indication of the importance of adequate daily intake of liquid, and a nutrition declaration. The labelling, advertising and presentation of weight control products shall not make any reference to the rate or amount of weight loss which may result from their use. Only the chemical compounds that are listed in commission regulation (EC) No 953/2009 may be used as sources of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients.
As weight control products are included in categories of foods for particular nutritional uses that are governed by specific regulations, no notification to the authorities is required when they are placed on the market.
Other foods for particular nutritional uses intended for weight reduction
VLCD products (Very Low Calorie Diet)
VLCD products are food products for particular nutritional uses intended for use in very low calorie diets, and in Finland they are categorised as foods. The available energy value of these products is very low, between 450 and 800 kcal daily.
No national or Community level special legislation exists regarding the VLCD products. Decree 121/2010 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on foods for particular nutritional uses partly lays down requirements for the composition, labelling and placing on the market of these products.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission created by FAO and WHO for standardisation purposes published in 1995 a standard regarding VLCD products (Codex Stan 203-1995). The values presented in the standard and their adequacy have not been re-assessed since 1995. The Nordic Council has also published a report on weight loss products prepared by the working group of nutrition experts appointed by the Council. This report also provides recommendations regarding requirements for VLCD products (Dietetic Foods proposed Nordic Guidelines for Assessment and Regulation (TemaNord 1994:580).
At present, a major deficiency of the Codex standard is related to the minimum requirements laid down in the standard for the quantities of vitamins and minerals. The listed quantities of vitamins and minerals are fairly low, and if complied with would make a product unsuitable as a sole source of nutrition in long-term use. Denmark, for example, has issued national recommendations for the minimum quantities of vitamins and minerals in VLCD products that are higher than the quantities listed in the Codex standard.
It is forbidden to refer in labelling, marketing or retail to the speed or amount of weight loss as a result of use of the VLCD-product.
As no specific legislation exists regarding VLCD products, the manufacturer or the importer of the product shall make a notification of the placing on the market of a food for particular nutritional uses to the competent authority of the EU member state in which the product is placed on the market for the first time. In Finland the notification is made to the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. A sample of the labelling for the product shall be attached to the notification.
Where the same product is subsequently placed on the market in another Member State the manufacturer or the importer shall provide the competent authority of that Member State with the same information, together with an indication of the recipient of the first notification.