The rules on nutrition and health claims are set out in Regulation (EC) no. 1924/2006.
Nutrition claims are assertions concerning energy, nutrients or other substances that the food contains or specifically does not contain (e.g. 'Source of Vitamin X'). Health claims are assertions concerning the food or a component thereof relating to health.

Health claims are subdivided as follows: 

  • Generic health claims (also designated as Article 13 Claims): assertions concerning the role of a nutrient in bodily growth and development and functions (e.g. 'Calcium is good for the bones'), or concerning psychological or behavioural functions, or concerning the slimming down or weight control effect or reducing the feeling of hunger.
  • Child claims: claims aimed at the development and health of children (also designated as Article 14 Child Claims).
  • Disease reduction claims: assertions that suggest that the consumption of the food or a component thereof reduces a risk factor in the development of a disease (also designated as Article 14 Disease Reduction Claims).

To view the authorised and rejected food nutrition and health claims view the online register of the European Commission. 

Click here for additional information about nutrition claims.
Click here for additional information about health claims.

In December 2007, the European Commission published an Interpretation Document on the Claims Regulation, which provides for a clear distinction between 'Article 13' and 'Article 14' claims.  On 19 April 2008, Regulation (EC) no. 353/2008 established the binding instructions for applications concerning an authorisation of health claims, among other things. For example, rules were developed on the scientific substantiation of the claim.

A regulation has a direct effect. Nevertheless, the Netherlands has opted to set out a number of elements in the Food Information (Commodities Act) Decree, such as rules on the use of a food quality logo. In the Netherlands, the Check Mark is the only logo for healthier nutrition authorised by the Dutch government. The European Commission has approved the Check Mark for use and the requirements governing the use of the logo are set out in the Food Information (Commodities Act) Decree. 

Nutrition and Health Claims for Spreadable Fats 
Separate rules for nutrition and health claims currently apply to spreadable fat products, such as margarine and low-fat margarine [halvarine]. These are set out in Regulation 1308/2013 and in Regulation 1234/2007, and are as follows: 

  • Reduced fat content/light: < 62% fat in the product (also see Regulation 1308/2013, page 819).
  • Low fat content: 41% fat in the product. Since 1 January 2016, the designation 'low fat content' is no longer authorised for (spreadable) fat products with less than 41% fat. Click here for additional information on this. 
  • Can be used in a cholesterol-reducing diet: The use of the qualification 'diet' is set out in the Special Nutrition Products (Commodities Act) Decree and at European level in Directive 2009/39/EC. For the diet designation on margarine and margarine-like products this concerns legislation at the national level. Current conditions require that margarine and margarine-like products must comply with the following condition (on a fat basis) to be authorised to carry the 'diet' designation: 

-        Maximum 25% saturated (including trans)
-        Minimum 50% polyunsaturated fatty acids

If the qualification 'diet' is used, the diet for which the product is recommended must be substantiated. If this concerns a cholesterol-reducing diet, then the phrase 'Recommended for use in a cholesterol-reducing diet' must be added.

Nutritional Profiles (Article 4)
Nutrition and Health Claims are only authorised if the product complies with a number (still to be developed) of criteria for fat, saturated fat, trans fatty acids, sugar and salt content: the so-called nutritional profiles. Although the Regulation specified that the European Commission was to develop nutritional profiles no later than 19 January 2009, no definitive criteria for these nutritional profiles have as yet been adopted to date. If, when the time comes, a product does not comply with the nutritional profiles, the use of the claim is permitted up until 2 years after the adoption of the profiles.

Last modified: October 16, 2017 09:40