EU law places strict controls on the use of nutrition and health claims on food labelling and in advertising. Under Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 (the Regulation):
- a nutrition claim is any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to the energy and/or nutrients or other substances it provides or contains (e.g., “low fat” or “source of fibre”); and
- a health claim is one which states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health (e.g., “Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal teeth”).
Under the Regulation, it is only possible to use nutrition claims that are listed in the Annex to the Regulation, and/or health claims that have been authorised by the European Commission following a European Food Safety Authority scientific review. The only exception to these requirements is in relation to claims that are trade marks (or brand or “fancy” names) and general, non-specific health claims (e.g., “Good for you” or “Healthy”). These claims may be used without prior approval, provided they are accompanied by an approved claim (which, in the case of a general health claim, must be an authorised specific health claim, such as the calcium example given above).