Misleading health claims to be banned at lastList of scientifically proven health claims to be provided

05 December 2011

Doctors coat

Misleading health claims on food and drink products are under scrutiny

Which? welcomes a vote from EU Member States that means unproven health claims will no longer be allowed on food and drink products. 

The Standing Committee on Animal Health and the Food Chain voted on 5 December 2011 to adopt a list of approved health claims, as assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the conditions under which they can be used.

Buy based on fact

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'It has been a long time coming, but consumers will soon be able to choose what products to buy based on fact, not fiction.'

He added: 'Manufacturers now need hard evidence, not just clever marketing, to promote the health benefits of food and drinks.'

The list of approved claims will now go to the European Parliament for a three month period of scrutiny.

Nutrition and health claims

Provided there is no challenge, it will then be published in the Official Journal. Once the list comes into effect, companies will then have six months to comply.

Claims that could not be substantiated include statements such as green tea helps to maintain normal blood pressure and glucosamine is beneficial for maintenance of joints.

Approved claims include the fact that calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones and that reduced consumption of saturated fat contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.

Which? lobbies European Union

In May 2006, following lobbying from several pressure groups, including Which?, the EU passed regulation on nutrition and health claims to ensure that claims appearing on foods were scientifically proven. 

The idea was to put an end to misleading claims, so consumers don't pay a premium for nothing.

Richard Lloyd said: 'The government must now also make sure products that are high in fat, sugar or salt can't claim to be healthy simply because they contain one healthy ingredient.'

More on this…