In 2006, the Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims on food (NHCR) was adopted in the EU.(4) The use of NHCs is laid out in this regulation and it is applicable across the EU. It continues to be in force within Great Britain (GB), as it was retained in law post-Brexit. The NHCR states the following:
A claim means any message or representation, including pictorial, graphic or symbolic representation, in any form, which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular characteristics.
A nutrition claim is one that states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to:
(a) the energy (calorific value) it
- provides at a reduced or increased rate; or
- (does not provide; and/or
(b) the nutrients or other substances it
- contains in reduced or increased proportions; or
- does not contain
An example would be 'low fat'. The regulation states that a 'low in fat' claim and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 3g of fat per 100g for solids or 1.5g of fat per 100ml for liquids (1.8g of fat per 100ml for semi-skimmed milk).
Health claims are defined under Articles 13 and 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament(5)
- Article 13 states that health claims other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children's development and health are claims that state, suggest or imply that a relationship exists between a food category, a food, or one of its constituents and health. An example would be 'Calcium is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children'. The claim can be used only for food which is at least a source of calcium.
- Aricle 14 relates to reduction of disease risk claims and claims referring to children's development and health. These state, suggest or imply that the consumption of a food category, a food or one of its constituents significantly reduce a risk factor in the development of a human disease. An example is 'Plant stanol esters have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease'. Reference to the magnitude of the effect may only be made for foods within the following categories: yellow fat spreads, dairy products, mayonnaise and salad dressings. When referring to the magnitude of the effect, the range '7% to 10%' for foods that provide a daily intake of 1,5-2,4g plant stanols or the range '10 %-12,5 %' for foods that provide a daily intake of 2.5-3g plant stanols and the duration to obtain the effect 'in 2 to 3 weeks' must be communicated to the consumer.