Food Law News - UK - 2002

JHCI press release (JHCI/73/02), 30 July 2002

HEALTH CLAIMS - Independent scientists agree new health claim for soya protein

The Joint Health Claims Initiative [JHCI], a non-governmental independent organisation consisting of representatives from consumer protection groups, food law enforcers and the food industry, has received the advice of seven leading UK scientists that 'the inclusion of at least 25g of soya protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat, can help reduce blood cholesterol levels'.

Lowering the concentration of blood cholesterol is associated with a reduction in risk of coronary heart disease.

JHCI has adopted and published its impartial advice to the food industry that such a health claim on foods that meet certain criteria is acceptable, accurate and will help consumers make wise dietary choices. It is up to the industry if it wishes to use a claim on food labels and in advertising. Some companies have been doing so for some time but this is the first time that such an authoritative endorsement of the claim has been issued in the UK. Those who label foods do not have to use a logo from JHCI or make any reference to the JHCI decision.

The Chairman of JHCI, Roger Manley, OBE, said, "Examination of all the evidence and an independent decision is of great value to consumers. They no longer have to believe just what the seller tells them. They can rely on our careful and thorough assessment of the facts. Many consumers say they want good and reliable advice about improving their health by choosing foods wisely", continued Roger Manley, "we at JHCI intend to help them make the choice by giving unbiased and truthful information".

In reaching this decision the JHCI Expert Committee was presented with evidence that focused on an intake of 25g soya protein per day. Therefore evidence based on intake levels above and below 25g has not been considered as part of this submission.

Products carrying this claim must:

i) Not imply that consumption of more, or less, than 25g per day is advantageous.
ii) Contain a minimum of 6.25g of soya protein per serving.
iii) State what constitutes a serving and the amount of soya protein provided in each serving expressed as grams or millilitres, e.g. 'One 200ml glass'; 'One 125g pot' etc.
iv) State the proportion (i.e. 'quarter', 'third', 'half' etc) of the 25g daily intake in each serving, e.g. 'A 100g serving contains 8.34g of soya protein, which is one third of 25g'.
v) Meet the requirements for a 'low saturates' nutrient claim.

The claim relates to soya protein that has retained its naturally occurring isoflavones.

The JHCI strongly recommends that companies seek advice from the Secretariat before using this claim to help ensure that the food product is consistent with good nutrition principles and complies with the JHCI Code of Practice for Health Claims on Food.

The wording of the claim has been carefully formulated to reflect the evidence on which the claim has been approved. Wording may be altered, in consultation with the JHCI, as long as the claim does not imply health benefits beyond the scope of the evidence; change the meaning of the claim; or, confuse consumers.

JHCI is an independent coalition formed to assess health claims on food. It has representatives from various consumer groups; food law enforcement agencies and food industry bodies representing manufacturers and retailers.

The JHCI Code of Practice was launched in December 2000, and in the absence of specific EU legislation:

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