Victory on food claims in EUSupermarket's nutritional claims to be verified

16 May 2006

A landmark ruling by the European Parliament to stop misleading health claims on food follows years of Which? campaigning.

A woman pushes a shopping trolley around a supermarket.

The law means that all foods carrying a new health claim will be submitted for checking before they go on sale.

Nutrition claims such as 'low fat' or ' light' will also have to be clearly defined, and the meaning standardised.

Fat, sugar and salt

The ruling also means that foods high in more than one of the elements fat, sugar or salt will be banned for carrying a nutritional claim. So a food that was high in both fat and sugar couldn't carry a claim to be low in salt.

And if a manufacturer does put a nutrition claim on a food - say, 'low salt' - the same label will also have to show whether the food is high in fat or sugar.

Which? has long been campaigning for tighter controls over health claims, so consumers could spot truly healthy foods more easily. Which? research has shown that almost 99 per cent of consumers want health claims checked on products.

Buy with confidence

Which? Public Affairs Officer Michelle Smyth said: 'At long last people will be able to buy foods with the confidence that the health claims on the label have been checked.'

All new health claims on food will now need to be registered with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The EFSA will then have five months to check the claim before it is allowed to go on sale.

Michelle Smyth added: 'We'll be watching closely to ensure that it's realistic for the EFSA to assess health claims in this period of time.'