Reduction of disease risk claims can only be used after their authorisation

29.10.2008

<div>The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira wishes to remind operators in the food industry that the use of claims relating to the reduction of disease risk is only allowed after such claims have been authorised in compliance with the procedure set forth in the Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made for foods. Evira is prepared to take action, if necessary, to ensure that no unauthorized reduction of disease risk claims are used.</div>

The Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made for foods came into force on 1 July 2007. The regulation grants a several years’ transition period for operators in the food industry to change their products and claims made thereof to correspond to the requirements of the regulation. Most transition periods end on 31 January 2010, after which only authorised claims can be used. The most important dates can be checked from Evira’s new control guideline on transition periods available at Evira’s Internet site.

No transition period has been granted for claims relating to the reduction of a disease risk, or risk factor. Therefore, no claims related to the reduction of a disease risk can be used in food products launched onto markets after the commencement of the application of the regulation on 1 July 2007 before the claim has been authorised in compliance with the regulation. However, foods placed on the market prior to 1 July 2007 may be marketed until their expiry date, but not after 31 July 2009. Evira also considers that claims pertaining to the reduction of disease risk can no longer be used in marketing materials.

What kind of claims are ‘reduction of disease risk’ (risk factor) claims?

The borderline between functional health claims (article 13) and reduction of disease risk claims (article 14) has not been clear. The classification was made on the EC level when the Commission issued the guidance on the implementation of the regulation on nutrition and health claims on 14 December 2007. The practice set forth in the guidance was confirmed when the list of claims referred to in article 13 was submitted to EFSA for evaluation at the end of summer 2008.

‘Reduction of disease risk claim’ means any health claim that states, suggests or implies that the consumption of a food category, a food or one of its constituents significantly reduces a risk factor in the development of a human disease. Such claims can be, for example, “lowers cholesterol” or ”lowers blood pressure” because elevated cholesterol and blood pressures levels are known to be risk factors to cardiovascular diseases. The claim “reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases”, however, is not a claim describing the reduction of a disease risk factor. It is classified as medical claim because it conveys the image of prevention of a disease. According to the Finnish Food Act (23/2006, §9) food must not be presented as having properties related to prevention, treatment or curing of human diseases or refer to such information.

The control of the compliance with the regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods will be tightened in 2010 when most transition periods have ended.

Further information on transition periods:
Senior Officer Sari Sippola, tel. +358 (0)20 77 24283, sari.sippola@evira.fi

Further information at the Evira Internet site (soon also in English): http://www.evira.fi/portal/en/food/control_and_entrepreneurs/nutrition_and_health_claims/

  • Evira’s Control Guideline on Transition Periods of the Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (article 28)
  • Commission Guidance on the Implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on Nutrition And Health Claims Made for Foods

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