Principles of and conditions for use of nutrition and health claims
Where claims are to be used, it is important that the following conditions are fulfilled:
- only authorised claims may be used
- the information provided and the implications made are in compliance with the Regulation on nutrition and health claims
- the substance for which the claim is made has been shown to have a beneficial effect
- the substance in question is contained in the product in an adequate/significant quantity
- nutrition labelling and other labelling information is in order
- the claims that are used are covered by in-house control
The Regulation on nutrition and health claims is applied to the marketing and advertising of products in all forms, including
- labelling of foods
- printed material
- electronic material
- product presentations, etc.
The Regulation on nutrition and health claims also applies to cases where the consumer can link the claim to a certain product, even if the product is not directly said to have the claimed property. In other words, the implications made in respect of the product must also comply with the Regulation on nutrition and health claims.
Nutrition and health claims may only be used in the labelling, presentation and advertising of foods provided the following preconditions are met:
Nutrition and health claims may not(Regulation on nutrition and health claims, Article 3)
a) be false, ambiguous or misleading;
b) give rise to doubt about the safety and/or the nutritional adequacy of other foods;
c) encourage or condone excess consumption of a food;
d) state, suggest or imply that a balanced and varied diet cannot provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general;
e) refer to changes in bodily functions which could give rise to or exploit fear in the consumer.
Claims may only be made for healthy foods (Regulation on nutrition and health claims, Article 4)
The Commission is expected to establish nutrient profiles, which shall be respected for the use of claims. After the nutrient profiles have been established, foodstuffs for which a nutrition claim or a health claim is made shall comply with the criteria of the profile.
Nutrient profiling refers to the categorisation of food on the basis of their composition. The aim of profiling is to avoid a situation where nutrition or health claims mask the true character of products that are detrimental to health. This way they prevent the misleading of consumers.
When the nutrient profiles have been established, Evira will provide information about the approved profiles and the action operations are required to take.
Health claims may not be made for alcoholic beverages. Nutrition claims may only be made referring to:
- low alcohol levels,
- the reduction of the alcohol content, or
- the reduction of the energy content.
The nutrient for which the claim is made must be beneficial and contained in the product in an adequate quantity (Regulation on nutrition and health claims, Article 5)
The claimed nutritional or physiological effect must be substantiated by generally accepted scientific data.
The claim shall be such that the average consumer can be expected to understand the beneficial effects as expressed in the claim.
Authorised claims and the conditions for their use can be found in the list maintained by the Commission. The required quantity of the nutrient in the food for the claim to be made has been defined in respect of both nutrition and health claims.
The intake of the nutrient for which a claim is made should be significant in normal use of the food. The defined amount should be provided by a quantity of the food that can reasonably be expected to be consumed in a day.
The use of a claim makes nutrition declaration compulsory (Regulation on nutrition and health claims, Article 7)
Where a nutrition or health claim is used, nutrition declaration is compulsory. The nutrition declaration has to be made according to reguirements set in the Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on food information to consumers article 30.
Specific information to be provided in labelling when using health claims (Regulation on nutrition and health claims, Articles 10 and 14)
Health claims shall only be permitted if the following information is included in the labelling, or if no such labelling exists, in presentation and advertising:
(a) a statement indicating the importance of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle;
(b) the quantity of the food and pattern of consumption required to obtain the claimed beneficial effect;
(c) where appropriate, a statement addressed to persons who should avoid using the food; and
(d) an appropriate warning for products that are likely to present a health risk if consumed to excess.
As concerns reduction of disease risk claims, it shall be announced
- that the disease to which the claim is referring has multiple risk factors and
- that altering one of these risk factors may or may not have a beneficial effect.
Reference to general, non-specific benefits of the nutrient or food for overall good health or health-related well-being may only be made if accompanied by a specific health claim included in the lists provided for in Article 13 or 14.
In Evira's opinion e.g. ‘heart friendly’, ‘wellbeing to your stomach’, ‘superfood’ or ‘health chocolate’ are general, non-specific claims. They must be accompanied by an authorised health claim, which indicates the specific effect on health, or by a health claim to which transitional measures are applied.
Pursuant to the regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (834/2014), the compulsory labelling shall be provided in Finnish and Swedish.
Evira holds that an indication of nutritional value and the supplementary statements required for the use of the health claim must be provided in Finnish and Swedish whenever a nutrition or health claim is made for a food proudct. Indication of the nutritional value and the necessary supplementary statements are also required both in Finnish and in Swedish if the labelling provided in some foreign language contains nutrition or health claims that are commonly understood in Finland All the information provided about the product, regardless of the language, has to be truthful and it may not be misleading.
Food business operator’s responsibility
The European Commission has issued an implementing decision on the guidelines for the application of Article 10 of the Regulation on nutrition and health claims for use by national regulatory authorities and the food business operators.
However, even if a health claim is authorised in accordance with the Commission's implementing decision, the claim may not be used unless it satisfies all the requirements set out in the Regulation on nutrition and health claims. Food business operators are required to demonstrate full compliance and provide an account of the measures they have taken to meet the requirements of each section of the Regulation.
• Only authorised claims in accordance with the Regulation on nutrition and health claims are to be used
• The mandatory information required in connection with the use of authorised claims is to be provided
- Nutrition and Health Claim Guide for food supervisors and food business operators (Evira Guide 17052/1)
- Commission’s Guidance on the Implementation of the Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims (pdf)