A group of European health organisations has urged European Commission president José Manuel Barroso to issue a proposal on nutrient profiling as part of a wider EU goal to reduce premature deaths.
Nutrient profiling involves setting the maximum amount of sugar, fat, salt and other nutrients allowed in products that also make nutrition and health claims. They were originally scheduled to be established in 2009 as part of health claims regulation, but stalled due to a lack of consensus.
The European Chronic Disease Alliance, which represents ten health organisations with about 100,000 members, said in an open letter to Barroso that it was “concerned about the lack of political will with regard to chronic diseases from the leadership of the European Union.”
It cited the 25 by 25 target that the World Health Assembly signed up to a year ago, in May 2012. The goal is to reduce premature death from non-communicable diseases by 25% by 2025, including a 30% reduction in average salt intake, and a 10% reduction in harmful alcohol intake, as well as a 30% reduction in tobacco use.
“We observe that a proposal for nutrient profilesin the context of the nutrition and health claims regulation has not yet been published, despite being planned for January 2009,” the letter reads.
“We are above all awaiting a strong political signal on chronic diseases from the European Commission: a proposal for a European Union Strategy and Action Plan on Chronic Diseases,including recommendations to address the major health risk factors.”
For the EC’s DG Sanco (the Directorate General for Health & Consumers), there is concern that time and money could be wasted investing in establishing thresholds for nutrients if there is a lack of support from industry, and the agency has been quiet on the subject since mid-2012.
A Commission spokesperson told FoodNavigator that a response to the ECDA letter would “come in due time.”
UEAPME, which represents the interests of small and medium-sized businesses in the EU, has said in a position paper that nutrient profiles may have been superseded by the 2011 Food Information Regulation, which already requires fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt to be displayed prominently on packaged foods. It comes into force in December 2014.