Nutrient-profiling position pleases industry

Missive supports consideration of whole diets when making claims

EUROPE The European Union's latest missive on the controversial topic of nutrient profiling has won a generally warm reaction from industry.

The opinion, published by the EFSA stated whole diets rather than individual ingredients should be considered when determining the health claims foods can make — a key point for industry.

The European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA), the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries in the EU, and the UK-based Health Food Manufacturers Association all expressed support for the direction the EFSA was taking.

The EFSA noted that certain foods may gain exemption under the proposed rules that, in essence, seek to restrict foods from making health claims that don't meet certain nutritional criteria. This is usually because they are high in fat, salt or sugar.

The food groups that may be exempted include vegetable oils; cereals and cereal products; spreadable fats; dairy products; fruits and vegetables and fruit/vegetable products; meat and meat products; fish and fish products; and nonalcoholic beverages.

"These exemptions, if necessary, could take the form of specific profiles to ensure that some food products in these groups are eligible to bear claims," said the EFSA's scientific panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies.

The EFSA is considering exempting these foods because they present nutritional anomalies. For instance, probiotic yoghurts are often high in sugar, and many fruits are relatively high in fructose, as are fruit juices. To preclude them from making health claims may go against the Health and Nutrition Claims Directive's stated aim of providing citizens with the most accurate and informative information

about the foods, beverages and supplements they consume.

In regard to supplements, the ERNA called for a complete exemption. Supplements 'do not contain significant quantities of energy, fat, sugar and salt, and therefore do not add to the daily energy intake of the consumer," said ERNA chairman, Gert Krabichler.

Under the current timetable, nutrient profiling will be written into European food law by January 2009.

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