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Nutrition and Health Claims
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Nutrition and Health Claims
Last updated: 25 September 2006    
Publication Date: 4 August 2006    


An increasing number of foods marketed and sold in the European Union (EU) bear nutrition and health claims. A nutrition claim states or suggests that a food has beneficial nutritional properties - typical examples include “low fat”, “no added sugar” and “high in fibre”. A health claim, on the other hand, is any statement used on labels, in marketing or in advertising that health benefits can result from consuming a given food, for instance statements that a food can help reinforce the body’s natural defenses or enhance learning ability.

EFSA’s role

The European Commission has proposed a Regulation on the use of nutrition and health claims for foods. One of the Commission’s key objectives is to “ensure that consumers will be able to rely on the truth and accuracy of information” by making sure that health and nutrition claims are based on reliable scientific evidence. EFSA will be strongly involved in implementing the new legislation, as its role will be to assess whether any claims about the health benefits or nutritional value of foods are scientifically reliable and justified. This will see EFSA taking on important new tasks in the field of nutrition.

In anticipation of the new legislation, which has not yet been adopted, EFSA has already begun to organise itself appropriately and to discuss its new responsibilities with the Commission. For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Background to the proposed new legislation

The European Commission saw the need to propose EU-wide legislation in order to regulate nutrition and health claims by applying harmonised rules across the EU. It has therefore proposed a Regulation on the use of nutrition and health claims for foods which aims to:

  • establish general principles for all claims made on foods
  • give the consumer the necessary information to make choices based on reliable scientific evidence
  • create equal conditions of competition for the food industry.
On 16th May 2006 the European Parliament concluded its second reading on the Health and Nutrition Claims Regulation. This has paved the way for the final adoption of this important piece of EU-wide legislation, expected in autumn 2006.

The European Commission has published detailed information on the proposed legislation including Questions and Answers on the issue of nutrition and health claims. For more details, see the “useful links” section below.

 EFSA Frequently Asked Questions on Nutrition and Health Claims

For more information on nutrition and health claims including:

What is EFSA’s position on the new legislative proposal?
What are EFSA’s tasks in implementing the proposed legislation?
Will EFSA be able to assess new health claims within the foreseen deadlines?
What are nutritional profiles?
Does EFSA have the experience and expertise to take this work on?

EFSA Conference on Nutrition and Health Claims

Bologna, Italy
8-10 November 2006

A conference will be held by EFSA to exchange views and share experience with all interested parties including EFSA’s Scientific Panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies (NDA Panel), EFSA’s Advisory Forum, Member State experts, experts from outside of Europe, European Commission, European Parliament, industry and consumer organisations, NGOs, etc.

Click here for more details on the conference.

 Useful Links

European Commission’s DG Health and Consumer Protection
More information on the new regulation is available on the commission website including legislative texts, press releases, questions and answers on health and nutrition claims and background documents.
Questions and Answers on Nutrition and Health Claims published by the European Commission: Click here

 Media enquiries

For media enquiries on Nutrition and Health Claims, contact Carola Sondermann at