Declarations on the label of a food product
Statements on the label of a food product, when and how they can be used.
Declarations are increasingly introduced on product labels. Often, in order to provide more product information, highlight product features or get a direct sales message with the consumer.
In order to guarantee a high level of consumer protection and to facilitate their choice between different foods, and given the differences in national provisions regarding these declarations that may prevent the free movement of food and create competitive conditions unequally, the European Parliament developed Regulation 1924/2006, of December 20, 2006 on nutrition and health claims in food.
Through this Regulation, the declarations of nutrition and health properties that are made in commercial communications are regulated, whether on the label of a food product, the presentation or advertising that is given to the food and that is supplied to the consumer final.
When determining which statements can be included in a commercial communication, it is important to consider what their concept is. By declaration, any pictorial, graphic or symbolic message or representation that affirms, suggests or implies that a food has specific characteristics is considered.
Any statement in that sense that affirms, suggests or implies that a food has specific beneficial nutritional properties in terms of energy intake or the nutrients it contains is a nutritional statement. A health claim is deemed to be any statement that asserts, suggests or implies that there is a connection between a food category, a foodstuff or one of its constituent parts and a person’s health. In the aforementioned Regulation, we find different regulations for each of these statements.
Declarations on the label of a food product.
Only nutritional declarations that are listed in the Annex to the Regulation and that conform to the following general conditions are authorized:
- It has been shown that the presence or absence of a nutrient and other substance in a food has a beneficial nutritional or physiological effect, established by generally proven scientific data. The Regulation does not establish what data or studies are necessary to demonstrate such an extreme, so we understand that any scientific analysis is sufficient.
- The nutrient is contained in the final product in a significant amount.
- The nutrient or substance that is found in a form assimilable by the body.
- The amount of the product that can reasonably be expected to be consumed provides a significant amount of the nutrient and another substance.
Health claims on the label of a food product.
With regard to health claims, the Regulation, instead of establishing those that are only authorized as it does with nutritional claims, determines which are prohibited (Article 10). They are prohibited in this regard:
- Those that do not meet the general requirements discussed above for nutritional statements. They apply to both statements.
- Those that do not include the following information in the presentation:
- A statement indicating the importance of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle;
- The amount of food and the pattern of consumption required to obtain the declared beneficial effect;
- Where appropriate, a statement addressed to people who should avoid eating the food, and an appropriate warning regarding products that may pose a health risk if consumed in excess.
- Those that are not authorized in accordance with the Regulation. Article 15 et seq of the Regulation establishes a specific procedure for granting a healthy property declaration authorization.
- Those that are not included in the lists of authorized declarations provided for in articles 13 and 14 of the Regulations. These two articles refer to health claims that describe or refer to:
- The role of a nutrient or other substance in growth, development and bodily functions or
- Psychological and behavioral functions, or
- Without prejudice to Directive 96/8/EC, weight loss, weight control, a decrease in the feeling of hunger, an increase in the feeling of satiety, or a reduction in the energy intake of the diet.
- Disease risk reduction.
It should also be noted that the following health claims will not be authorized:
- Statements that suggest that health could be affected if the food in question is not consumed;
- The statements that refer to the pace or magnitude of the weight loss;
- The statements that refer to recommendations of individual doctors or other health professionals and other associations not allowed by the Regulation in its article 11.
To determine whether a nutritional or health claim can be used on the label of a food product, such as food supplements, each case must be analyzed following the requirements required by the regulations and, specifically, by the food supplements legislation.
Before developing a label, therefore, it is necessary to have a specialized food consultancy that determines which ends of it comply with all regulations at the legal and technical level.