Food Law News - EU - 2004

Council Minutes, 7 December 2004

HEALTH CLAIMS Council discussions on nutrition and health claims on foods

The following is an extract from the minutes of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting - Brussels , 6 and 7 December 2004 - it is a slightly modified version of the first report (see 6 December 2004)

Pending the European Parliament's opinion, the Council took note of a progress report on the state of play regarding examination being carried out on a proposal for a Regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods (11646/03).

The Council held a further exchange of views aimed at giving guidance for future work, especially focusing on:

The delegations welcomed the Commission's proposal considering it an adequate mean, among others (e.g. non-regulatory measures), to help the consumers in making informed choices. They further generally recognised that the use of the concept of nutrient profiles could contribute to achieving the desired objectives, even if, in their opinion, there is still room for further clarification and improvement. They particularly encouraged the Commission and the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue their reflections on this subject.

Nutrient profile would set out the conditions which a food would have to respect in order to bear a claim, so as to ensure that the health or nutrition information given in that claim is indeed contributing to the consumer's healthy diet.

Community harmonisation of rules aims at ensuring a high level of consumer and public health protection, while removing obstacles to the proper functioning of the internal market and to the free movement of foods arising from the co-existence of different national legislation.

The food industry has responded to an increased consumer interest in the information appearing on food labels by highlighting the nutritional value of products through claims in their commercial communication (labelling, presentation and advertising).

In order to avoid misleading consumers and to ensure the proper use of claims as a marketing tool, the draft Regulation intends to only allow claims11 which are clear and meaningful to the consumer, subject to certain conditions and following an independent scientific assessment and Community authorisation. The person marketing the food should be able to justify the use of the claim.

The draft Regulation covers foods to be delivered as such to the final customer or supplied to restaurants, hospitals, schools, canteens and other large-scale caterers.

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