A free report from the UK consultancy, Healthclaimseurope.com, has summarised the key nutrition claims regulations from the perspective of a food and beverage marketing manager, in an easy-to-use format, so they don’t stray from the regulations.
Jo Jordan, who headed the nutrition claims project, said that EU food regulation is strong and allows companies to market equally on a level playing field, over a large common market.
Business school logic
However, it may be difficult to translate regulation into practical action, particularly when you are trying to differentiate a product or boast of a unique selling point.
Jordan told FoodNavigator.com: “The business school logic of being highly competitive cuts across the regulatory logic of being safe and common.”
But she added: “The commonality of EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) works from Spain to Estonia - we all understand what these nutrition claims mean.”
Jordan said these claims help to keep things simple so everyone can understand it without the need to “push the science”.
In Europe, 29 nutrition claims such as ‘Low Fat’ and ‘Fat-Free’, are permitted in food advertisements, packaging and promotional messages and each claim has specific requirements that products must meet if they bear it.
The report states that marketing managers have three obligations:
- Verify that a nutrition claim is on the approved list
- Confirm with food scientists that the nutrition claims for the product have been met
- Match products more closely to consumers’ expectations.
Expanding on this, it said the first step is to confirm that any claim used for a product is actually on the list of all 29, which it breaks down into ten groups: Energy; Fats; Omega-3 Fatty Acids; Unsaturated Fats; Fibre; Proteins; Sodium / Salt; Sugars; Vitamins / Minerals and Nutrients.
The next step is to confirm that the product complies with the specific, listed requirements of the claim.
Every claim has at least one requirement and may also have specific requirements. An example could be that it does not contain more than 3g of fat per 100g for solids.
The report puts the two-to-six claims for each of the ten groups on a chart so marketers can ask food scientists the right questions to check these requirements are met.
Lastly the report states: “Should anything we say lead a consumer to believe that a product bears a nutrition claim, then the product should indeed comply with the requirements of the claim listed in the Annex to the Regulations.
If it is concluded that consumers might believe a nutrition claim is being made then it recommends either changing the communications to discourage this or “if the nutrition claim is defensible, consider whether to re-position our product and gain commercial advantage by making the claim explicit”.