Food Law News - UK - 1996
16 December 1996: FUNCTIONAL FOODS / HEALTH CLAIMS - FAC Preliminary Conclusions
MAFF Letter, 16 December 1996
Functional Foods and Health Claims - FAC Preliminary Conclusions
The Food Advisory Committee has been considering functional foods and health claims and has reached some preliminary conclusions on which it would welcome further comments. The preliminary conclusions are given below but were circulate with some "Draft Guidelines on Health Claims on Foodstuffs". A copy of these can be obtained from the Ministry (Contact the Ministry on 0171-238 6281).
The FAC has concluded:
- The market for functional foods in the UK is at present very small in the overall context of food sales, although it may be becoming significant in the yoghurt sector.
- Many of the health claims being made are unspecific "feel good" statements; some are linked to official recommendations and others are based on data exclusively held by those making the claims; some contain references to disease and may be misleading the consumer.
- Evidence of how consumers react to such claims is needed and some quantitative data will be available in the New Year.
- The approaches of other countries to regulation in this area are varied but it is noteworthy that most EU member states rely on the same legislative controls as already pertain in the UK supplemented in a few countries with guidelines.
- The FAC wishes to have further views on whether the UK should follow a similar route on the basis of draft guidelines or whether the main elements of the draft guidelines should be incorporated into further statutory rules o health claims.
- There also appears to be a need for advice to be available to companies and enforcement officers on health claims and the FAC suggests that these needs are met by trade associations and LACOTS establishing advisory services for their members, as is already done by ASA, PAGB and other bodies.
- The FAC invites comments on other options for assessing health claims
- The FAC has seen no convincing evidence for the need for pre-market approval of functional foods beyond the controls which already exist or will be implemented shortly on novel foods and additives.
The Ministry has invited comments on these preliminary conclusions and on the draft guidelines on health claims. Comments are requested before 31 March 1997.
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