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The Future

How Health Claims Are Regulated

Have you ever worried that health claims that you see on food labels are exaggerated or simply made up?

How health claims are regulated

For over ten years, EU legislation has been in place to prevent companies from using misleading or false health claims on products.1 Any claims must be authorised before being used, which involves a strict procedure.

Thousands of health claims have been submitted for approval since its regulations came into force in 2007, but only around 260 have been approved to date – therefore, getting a health claim approved is tough! A list of both accepted and rejected health claims is available on the European Commission (EC) website.2

Claims are assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

EFSA provides an opinion on proposed claims, including their view on whether or not the claimed health effect is really beneficial and whether or not there is sufficient scientific evidence to show that the food, food component or nutrient causes the claimed effect.3 The EC then gives final approval or rejects the claim.

The wording of health claims

EFSA also considers the wording of the claim suggested by the applicant and may propose alternative wording. If approved, the final wording of the claim is decided by the EC. However, the official wording can be complicated may not be easily understood by consumers and so companies may be able to use more user-friendly wording as long as it doesn’t stray too far from the original.

For example:

... since it merely restates the claim in a more user-friendly way.

But:

… since the first version makes the claim stronger, which is misleading.

The bottom line

The science behind health claims can be really complicated, which is why it must be assessed by experts. So next time you’re looking at labels on foods and drinks, it’s worth checking to see which claims you can spot!

This article has been adapted by the author for FoodUnfolded. Read the original article here

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