Written by Tarja Laaninen.
The European Commission is planning to establish ‘nutrient profiles’, that is, maximum amounts for nutrients such as fat, sugar and/or salt in foods, above which the use of nutrition or health claims would be restricted or forbidden. For example, breakfast cereals exceeding a sugar limit could no longer advertise their fibre or vitamin content.
The Commission was already tasked with setting nutrient profiles to restrict the promotion of food high in fat, sugar and/or salt under the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (‘Claims Regulation’) adopted in 2006. Now, in accordance with the action plan accompanying the EU’s ‘farm to fork’ strategy, the Commission will submit a proposal on nutrient profiles by the end of 2022. The proposal will form part of a wider package revising EU legislation on food information supplied to consumers, together with proposals on front-of-pack nutrition labelling, origin labelling, date marking, and labelling of alcoholic beverages.
In the same package, the Commission also intends to solve a problem that has long been puzzling manufacturers and consumers in the herbal and plant products market, namely, that the same product can be classified both as a herbal medicine and as a food, depending on the Member State in which it is sold.
While most consumer organisations and health advocates strongly support the idea of introducing nutrient profiles, opponents caution against overly simplistic labels that punish certain food groups and lead health-conscious individuals to avoid them. The European Parliament has stressed that food information is a potent tool for empowering consumers.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Nutrient profiles: A ‘farm to fork’ strategy initiative takes shape‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.