EU to relax severe food ‘healthy’ claim curbs

The European Parliament is preparing to tone down proposed restrictions on health claims about food. Companies will be allowed to make medical claims if they are backed by scientific evidence.

It is thought that the latest draft of the proposals will water down the original concept of “nutritional profiling” – the determination of whether or not food is healthy. The new proposals, which are likely to be welcomed with relief by the food industry, are due to be discussed by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament later this month.

The original draft was put on hold by the European Parliament before the elections in June. It has now been referred back for a complete review, under the guidance of Italian MEP Adriana Poli Bortone. The European Union’s new Luxembourgeois presidency has said it wants to try to reach political agreement on the issue in June.

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, says UK advertisers are in favour of regulation, because it will provide a level playing field and protect consumers. But, he adds, ISBA and other industry representatives are against food profiling in its current form because it is “bad science”. “If you are going to have these tests, they need to be fair and objective. At present, there is no scientific basis for the whole idea of nutritional profiling,” he says.

It is understood that the UK Food Standards Agency is consulting interested parties informally on whether alcohol should be excluded from the proposals.

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