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All food products for sale, marketing and distribution in EU countries need to comply with regulations on the labelling of nutritional and health claims.

From December 13, 2016, a nutrition declaration becomes mandatory for the majority of prepackaged foods. However, in cases where the nutrition declaration is provided on labels of foodstuffs placed on the market, or labelled, after December 13, 2014, it should already comply with the rules in Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011.

Nutritional labelling background

In general, until December 12, 2014 nutrition labelling was governed by Council Directive 90/496/EEC, as amended by Commission Directives 2003/120/EC and 2008/100/EC. In January 2008, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament, and of the Council, on the provision of food information to consumers, to update and revise the Community legislation on general food labelling and nutrition labelling. The proposals for the amendment of the nutrition labelling aspects of the Community rules took into account consultations in 2003 and 2006, and impact assessments prepared in 2004 and 2007.

The Regulation

Governed by Regulation (EU) 1169/2011, the mandatory nutrition declaration on food products must include the following:

  • Energy value
  • The amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt

The content of the mandatory nutrition declaration referred to above may be supplemented with an indication of the amounts of one or more of the following:

  • Mono-unsaturates
  • Polyunsaturates
  • Polyols
  • Starch
  • Fibre
  • Any of the vitamins or minerals

Nutrition labelling of products to which vitamins and minerals have been added, and which are covered by Regulation (EU) 1169/2011, is compulsory. The information to be provided must consist of that specified in Article 30(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council, dated October 25, 2011, on the provision of food information to consumers, and of the total amounts present of vitamins and minerals added to the food.

For non-prepackaged foods, the content of the nutrition declaration can be limited to either the energy value alone, or to the energy value together with the amounts of fat, saturates, sugars, and salt.

Nutritional & Health Claims or Declarations

Nutrition labelling of products on which a nutrition and/or health claim is made is mandatory, with the exception of generic advertising.

Health claims

A health claim is any statement about a relationship between food and health. The Commission authorises different health claims, provided they are based on scientific evidence and can be easily understood by consumers. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for evaluating the scientific evidence supporting health claims.

The Commission draws up lists of health claims, including the different types of authorised and rejected health claims in the EU.

There are three types of health claim:

  1. Function health claims:

    • Relating to the growth, development and functions of the body
    • Referring to psychological and behavioural functions
    • On slimming or weight-control

  2. Risk reduction claims – for example, claims on reducing a risk factor in the development of a disease:

    • "Plant stanol esters have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol. Blood cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease"

  3. Health claims referring to children's development (Article 14(1)(b), for example:

    • "Vitamin D is needed for the normal growth and development of bone in children"

Nutritional claims

A nutrition claim means any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to:

  • The energy (calorific value) it:
    • Provides
    • Provides at a reduced or increased rate, or
    • Does not provide

And/or,

  • The nutrients or other substances it:
    • Contains
    • Contains in reduced or increased proportions, or
    • Does not contain

Nutrition claims are only permitted if they are listed in the Annex of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, lastly amended by Regulation (EU) No 1047/2012.

For further details, please contact:

Alexandra Dedeilia, MSc
Agricultural Services (AGRI) &
Consumer Testing Services (CTS)
Business Manager
SGS Greece S.A.
t: +30 210 5720777 (ext 116)