How health claims could impact marketing ethics

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The tough health claims environment in Europe could turn manufacturers towards more subtle – and maybe less ethical – marketing approaches, believes Henry Dixon of PR firm BDB.

The tough health claims environment in Europe could turn manufacturers towards more subtle – and maybe less ethical – marketing approaches, believes Henry Dixon of PR firm BDB.

Dixon says that the current state of affairs, with the majority of proposed claims turned away by EFSA, is not in the best interests of consumers or industry. The regulation was originally conceived in the spirit of bringing clarity and choice to the market, and providing consumers with functional foods and supplements they could trust and understand.

Now, however, industry may cease to innovate or do R&D outside Europe, or turn to creative marketing such as lifestyle associations, imagery and clever copy lines. It may even adopt some of the marketing practices employed by the tobacco industry.

He concludes that this is “a sad result”,​ but that there remains a need to push products – and that may mean finding ways to get around the regulation.

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1 comment

UNDERSTANDING LEGISLATION

Posted by Mark J. Tallon, Phd,

I would say that the use of lifestyle associations and imagery and even 'clever copy' lines will be convered by the nutrition & health claims regulation (NHCR).

Article 2(1), 2(4) and 2(5) of the regulation clearly set out that that implying a health benefit through pictorial graphic or symbolic (as described in this broadcast) means would fall under the remitt of the NHCR.

What maybe open is defining clearly some of the terminology used in the regulations, such as 'commercial communication'. Although not explained in detail Article 2(d) of Directive 2005/29/EC may provide some direction if a legal enforcement case was to arise.

It will be of interest to see how branding and marketing experts deal with the NHCR, and how enforcement will tackle their attempts to communicate with the consumer.

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