December 14, 2012 marks a milestone in the application of the European Union’s (EU) Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation. From this date forward only claims that are included in a list of approved generic claims, those that received a specific decision or regulation, and claims that have been put on hold, will be allowed on foods and supplements in the EU.
In 2006, the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA) contributed to the establishment of this list and welcomed it as a tool that will help companies provide correct and accurate communication about the many health benefits of vitamins and minerals, omega 3 fatty acids and some other ingredients.
Despite the delayed establishment of this list, the application of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation remains complex and interpretations on a number of its provisions are seen to differ between Member States. ERNA has therefore developed a guidance document on how to apply the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation in a number of situations.
“One of the aims of this legislation is to create a uniform set of rules for the whole of the EU,” said ERNA Chair Catherine Mignot. “Companies, however, are confronted with aspects that have not been clarified or that remain subject to differences of opinion among the Member States. The ERNA guidance intends to provide clarity on a number of aspects to help companies apply the requirements in a correct and responsible way.“
The guidance covers elements such as which claims fall within the scope of the legislation, flexibility of wording, communication to professionals and how to apply the general conditions of use for approved claims.
“This guidance contains information that will help companies, in particular small and medium-sized companies, to apply those elements of the legislation that are particularly difficult,” explained ERNA Secretary-general Patrick Coppens. “The information is compiled from existing EU and national guidance, legal opinions and outcomes of discussions with and between Member States. We hope that it will help to create a uniform basis for enforcement and avoid the need for companies to adapt communication on a country-to-country basis.”
The guidance document will be downloadable from the ERNA website at www.erna.org.