May 27, 2005
BRC BACKS SENSIBLE APPROACH TO HEALTH AND NUTRITION CLAIMS
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed yesterday's decision by the European Parliament to remove parts of the 'European Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims' that would confuse customers and undermine the food industry's work on product innovation.
The Regulation sets out rules for making nutrition and health claims on product labels, following concerns that some claims are made without scientific backing or are misleading by suggesting that the product or an ingredient could improve health.
Whilst food retailers supported the aims of the Commission's initial proposal, the BRC was concerned that it set out rules on making claims, but did not define the criteria. The proposal also blacklisted certain general health claims, which would have affected retailers' 'healthy option' brands - ranges that are popular with many consumers, as they can be easily distinguished from standard options.
BRC Director General, Dr Kevin Hawkins, said: "BRC members aim to provide consumers with a clearer idea of the impact certain foods have on their diet, but a less prescriptive approach is needed than was originally proposed by the Committee - one that doesn't counter retailers' efforts or create confusion. It is vital that the messages sent out are consistent so we are pleased MEPs took our advice.
"British food retailers have made significant investments in producing convenient, healthy eating options and in strategies designed to overcome the barriers that discourage people from choosing a healthy diet.
"The BRC has worked hard to find an agreement that will allow retailers to continue developing healthier options for their customers. Today's decision by MEPs reflects that hard work."
The above points refer to article 4 and article 11 in the proposal. The regulations can be found at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/food/food/labellingnutrition/claims/index_...
All retailers' healthy option brand ranges include specific statements on why the product is healthier.