What does “light” mean? How far can the lack of nutrient profiles be pushed?

According to European Union Regulation 1924/2006, also known as the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR), the claim fat-free can be made when:

“A claim that a food is fat-free, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 0,5 g of fat per 100 g or 100 ml. However, claims expressed as ‘X % fat-free’ shall be prohibited.”

For example, a line of dairy products with 0,1 g of fat per 100 g can make such a claim,  can express it also as 0,1% fat, and may have features bordering on ligthness (without mentioning it, otherwise it would have to meet the requirements of reduced which are:
A claim stating that the content in one or more nutrients has been reduced, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the reduction in content is at least 30 % compared to a similar product, except for micronutrients, where a 10 % difference in the reference values as set in Directive 90/496/EEC shall be acceptable, and for sodium, or the equivalent value for salt, where a 25 % difference shall be acceptable

).

That said, no fat or low fat claims do not imply that the product has low energy. With nutrient profiles practically dead (art. 4), this would seem ok, even when with the same “no fat” product line you have some flavors with low calories and some other flavors that practically have the same energy of the regular, full fat line. The consumer may think that the “no fat claim”, especially comparing superficially the two existing product lines, would imply a signficant reduction of energy as well , but this would be irrelevant from a regulatory standpoint.

Is it really so, or could it fall under the scope of misleading advertising? Authorities in at least some EU countries have proved ready to question a strict interpretation of Reg. 1924/2006, and fine companies under a broader interpretation, as int eh case of % cholesterol claims. Cholesterol content claims would be allowed under the Regulation’s annex, but appear to conflict with the principles of the Regulation.

Predictions are difficult to make, and we suggest caution with approaches as the one described (i.e., use the lack of profiles to push for products that are light only in appearance), especially for sports nutrition, which is often a soft target for regulators.

Sports Nutrition Team

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: