EU to regulate use of health claims – Foor Safety Authority already investigates claims used in Finland
The Food Safety Authority Evira is currently investigating the health claims used in Finland, and the research evidence on which they are based. This investigation is conducted, as the Regulation requires that member states submit during the year following the enforcement of the Regulation a list of generally accepted health claims, which the average consumer can be expected to understand. The lists will be utilised to determine the health claims that are approved into the final register. The list of claims can be later supplemented by a separate application.
In Finland, various health claims are commonly used in marketing, but we do not have a national list of generally accepted health claims, which the average consumer can be expected to understand. For this reason, Evira investigates with the support of the Ministry of Trade and Industry the use of such claims and the conditions of their use. The investigation concerns claims that may refer to:
a) the role of a nutrient or other substance in growth, development and the functions of the body, or
b) psychological and behavioural functions, or
c) slimming or weight-control or a reduction in the sense of hunger or an increase in the sense of satiety or to the reduction of the available energy from the diet
Other types of claims used in food marketing, such as claims referring to the nutritional properties of the product (e.g. rich in fibres, a good source of calcium) or to the reduction of disease risk are not included in this investigation. Claims that are considered medicinal, i.e. references to the ability of the foodstuff or its ingredients to prevent, treat or cure diseases, will not be permitted in the marketing of foodstuffs in the future, either.
Information about the health claims used in food marketing and about the research evidence on which they are based is collected by means of a questionnaire published on the Internet. Information about the project and a link to the form can be found on Evira's Internet site at: http://www.evira.fi/portal/en/food/control_and_entrepreneurs/investigation_of_health_claims/
The form shall be filled out by 15 July 2006. The form can be filled out by all interested operators, e.g. companies engaged in food business, raw material suppliers, experts, representatives of patient organisations, and authorities. Companies that use health claims are advised to fill out the questionnaire, as pursuant to the draft Regulation only claims recorded in the EU register can be used in the future.
The results obtained from the questionnaire forms will be presented in a seminar on 11 December 2006. The purpose of the seminar is to develop a common position as to which claims are generally accepted and understandable to the consumer, and what the criteria are for their presentation. A report of the investigation results will be published in January 2007.
More information on
Health claim questionnaire: Sirpa Sarlio-Lähteenkorva, Evira,
tel. +358 (0) 20 772 4283 or +358 (0) 50 386 8430
EU Regulation on nutrition and health claims: Anne Haikonen, Ministry of Trade and Industry, tel. +358 (0) 9 1606 3654