Nutrition and health claims on foods

Project co-financed by:

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ARRS

Description of the project:

The use of nutrition and health claims on food stuffs is a critical issue as consumers tend to consider such foods as beneficial to their health and are therefore willing to pay more for them. On the other hand there are risks that producers might try to mislead the consumer by the inappropriate use of claims. In addition, the use of the claims can contribute to public health risks if it leads to the excessive use of certain food stuffs, especially when the consumers replace foods with an otherwise good nutritional composition.

The use claims in the EU is regulated by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European parliament and of the Council on nutrition and health claims made on foods. “Claim” means any message or representation, which is not mandatory under legislation, including pictorial, graphic or symbolic representation, in any form, which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular characteristics. Claim must not be misleading for the consumer. Until the acceptation of the Community Register, claims which were used on EU markets before the acceptance of the regulation, can stay on the market, but they should meet general principles of the regulation. The acceptance of list of the permitted general function claims into the Community Register is in the final stage as the European Food Safety Authority is finishing the scientific evaluation of the majority of such claims until August 2011.

The proposed project will research the use of the nutrition and health claims on the food stuffs in Slovenia with the method of sampling at the points of sale. The sampling will be performed in stores of different retail chains (hypermarket, supermarket, discount store) and will include at least 5,000 pre-packed foods. We will research the types of claims appearing on different food stuffs categories and the scope of the usage of the claims. In addition we will check whether these products meet the conditions for the use of the claims and if their usage is misleading for the consumer. The evaluation will take into account the aspect of consumers' understanding of the claim. Furthermore, we will research is the use of claims correlates with the nutritional profile of the products. The results of the study will be compared with results available from other countries. Chemical composition of some food categories on which claims are frequently uses will be determined to investigate whether conditions for use of claims are met. Additionally we will study the consumers' understanding of claims and how the use of claims effects consumers' buying decisions in relation to nutrient profiles.

The regulation in Article 27 requires preparation of a report on the application of the regulation, in particular on the evolution of the market in foods in respect of which nutrition or health claims are made and on the consumers' understanding of claims. The results of the proposed project will be important for the preparation of such report, as Slovenia does not have such data yet. The results of the proposed project will also provide important guidelines to food inspection authorities and enable them to target those categories of foods and claims which will prove the most problematic.

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+386 5 9068 870

+386 1 300 79 81

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Nutrition institute is engaged in research and education in the field of nutrition and advising the food industry in the formulation and labeling of foods. In the scope of the institute, research group Healthy Nutrition is established, which performs research on food and nutrition.