DH Interested Parties Letter, 25 January 2011
1) Nutrition claims – discussion on revision of the list of permitted nutrition claims
‘No added salt’
The Commission gave a brief presentation to show how the sodium content of various products on the market (fruit and fruit products; meat; fish; vegetablesand vegetable products) related to possible thresholds for the sodium level in this claim; the thresholds discussed were those in the existing ‘low sodium/salt’, ‘very low sodium/salt’ and ‘sodium/salt-free’ claims i.e. 120mg, 40mg, 5mg/100g or /100ml. Among those member states’ (MS’) representatives who spoke there was general support for a threshold of 120mg sodium/100mg or /100ml or the equivalent value for salt.
There was a brief, inconclusive discussion about whether the statement ‘contains naturally-occurring sodium/salt’ should be required where appropriate.
‘No added sugar’
There was general support for amending the claim such that the statement ‘contains naturally-occurring sugars’, when used, would have to appear very close to the wording ‘no added sugar’.
‘Now contains X% less’
The Commission explained that the intention was to permit comparison of the nutrient content of a reformulated product with the ‘same’ product before recipe change and that, for the reformulation claim there would not need to be direct comparison with other similar products on the market. This would be different from conditions of use for the ‘reduced’ claim where the comparison has to be with a range of similar products. Other differences envisaged between the reformulation and ‘reduced’ claims were that for a reformulated product the reference product would not be on the market and the reformulated product would have to be labelled with the nutrient content prior to reformulation.
Several MS expressed concerns that, in permitting comparison with the nutrient content of a single product, the proposed conditions of use (COU) for this claim contradicted the requirements of Article 9 of the nutrition and health claims regulation (the NHCR); others questioned whether a small change (10% or 15%) could be enforced given tolerances for nutrition labelling. The Commission agreed that the reason for Article 9 requiring comparison with a range of products was to avoid misleading comparisons. However, it suggested that consumers would not be misled if the comparison that a reformulated product was making was clear and that this was the purpose of requiring it to be labelled with the nutrient content before reformulation. In addition, the general requirements in Articles 3 and 5 of the NHCR would apply.
There was some support for the proposition that where a ‘now contains X% less sugar’ claim was made the energy content of the reformulated product should be no greater than that of the product prior to that sugar reduction step.
2) Discussions on opinions received from EFSA and related comments from the applicant/members of the public: Q-2008-681; Q-2009-00776; Q-2010-00784
Q-2008-681: Actimel and reduction of C.difficile toxins in the gut of patients receiving antibiotics and reduced risk of acute diarrhoea (Article 14)
EFSA has given a negative opinion; the Commission is awaiting EFSA’s response to comments from the applicant and other stakeholders.
Q-2009-00776: oat beta-glucan and lowering blood cholesterol and reduced risk of heart disease (Article 14)
EFSA has given a positive opinion. The Commission asked for MS’ views on whether: the reduction of blood cholesterol should be quantified in the COU for the claim as had been done for plant sterols / stanols; whether the claim could be limited to oat beta-glucans above a certain molecular weight; and what quantity of beta-glucans should be required per quantified serving for a food to bear the claim. There was a brief discussion and the Commission will reflect.
Q-2010-00784:”Toothkind” drinks and reduction of tooth demineralisation (Article 13(5))
EFSA has given a positive opinion on the wording ‘Frequent consumption of typical juice drinks and sugar-containing, acidic, non-alcoholic beverages may contribute to tooth demineralisation; consumption of “toothkind” drinks in replacement of typical juice drinks and sugar-containing, acidic, non-alcoholic beverages may help to reduce tooth demineralisation.’ The Commission invited MS to submit their views on certain unusual issues to do with this claim:
3) List of article 13 health claims.
The Commission stated that its objective was to have a positive vote on a draft regulation authorising Article 13(1) claims by the end of this year. It would consider holding ad hoc working group (WG) meetings, in addition to monthly meetings, if necessary. The aim was also to have guidance documents available as soon as possible after adoption of the Article 13 list but work on adopting the list would take priority.
We are considering how best to approach the large number of Article 13 claims now under discussion and how best to include your views.
4) Next Working Group meeting.
The next Commission Working Group meeting on nutrition and health claims will take place on 22 February 2011.