Back in July 2012, the Health Food Manufacturers Association UK (1) in conjunction with the Supplement and Healthy Food Group, Netherlands (Gezondheidsproducten Nederland) and some private companies lodged a legal appeal to have section 13.1 of the Nutrition and Health Claim Regulations (NHCR) annulled. They argue the regulation lacks legal certainty, is disproportionate and inadequately justified. Two years later this appeal has finally been heard by the European Court of Justice.
A poll of Food and Nutrition sector companies on the impact of the NHCR conducted by Vitafoods Europe found 84% of respondents concluded that the regulation was as devastating as they expected it to be. Reasons include; the negative impact on marketing communications about their products, a stifling of innovation and the scientific criteria for gaining EFSA approval being too onerous and more applicable to pharmaceuticals (2).
The Nutrition and Health Claim Regulations (NHCR) 1924/2006 officially came in to force in Dec 2014. Section 13.1 pertains to health claims describing the role of a nutrient or substance in the growth, development or functions of the body including psychological or behavioural functions . As part of this legislation the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consolidated approx. 44,000 health claims into about 4000 for assessment and finally authorised claims for just 220 odd substances. Authorisations are mainly for Vitamin and Minerals, botanical assessments have been on hold for many many years, thus leaving many products in legal limbo. Claims such as ‘probiotic’ have been banned under this legislation. The results of this appeal will be very closely watched by all involved in the sector, although that result is not expected until at least the summer 2015. Avena Consultants will keep you updated!