Helpnote – Food & Supplement Claims

The rules governing what can and cannot be claimed for food and food supplements are underpinned by various pieces of European legislation. This Help Note seeks to make it clearer what can be said in a radio ad making such claims.

Claims of Effect
Any and all claims regarding the effect food or vitamin supplements may have on a consumer must first have been authorised under the Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/21012. Claims such as “…to help lower cholesterol” must appear on the EU’s registry of authorised claims. The full list of authorised claims is available for download here.

This came into force on 14th June 2012, with a six-month period of grace, set to run out on 14th December 2012.

Claims of Content
Claims referring to the nutritional contents of food and supplements can only be made if the contents measure up to definitions laid out in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. These definitions are reproduced below.

Low Energy
A claim that a food is low in energy, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product does not contain more than 40 kcal (170 kJ)/100 g for solids or more than 20 kcal (80 kJ)/100 ml for liquids. For table-top sweeteners the limit of 4 kcal (17 kJ)/portion, with equivalent sweetening properties to 6 g of sucrose (approximately 1 teaspoon of sucrose), applies.

Energy-Reduced
A claim that a food is energy-reduced, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the energy value is reduced by at least 30 %, with an indication of the characteristic(s) which make(s) the food reduced in its total energy value.

Energy-Free
A claim that a food is energy-free, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product does not contain more than 4 kcal (17 kJ)/100 ml. For table-top sweeteners the limit of 0,4 kcal (1,7 kJ)/portion, with equivalent sweetening properties to 6 g of sucrose (approximately 1 teaspoon of sucrose), applies.

Low Fat
A claim that a food is low in fat, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 3 g of fat per 100 g for solids or 1,5 g of fat per 100 ml for liquids (1,8 g of fat per 100 ml for semi-skimmed milk).

Fat-Free
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.

Low Saturated Fat
A claim that a food is low in saturated fat, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made if the sum of saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids in the product does not exceed 1,5 g per 100 g for solids or 0,75 g/100 ml for liquids and in either case the sum of saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids must not provide more than 10 % of energy.

Saturated-Fat-Free
A claim that a food does not contain saturated fat, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the sum of saturated fat and trans-fatty acids does not exceed 0,1 g of saturated fat per 100 g or 100 ml.

Low Sugars
A claim that a food is low in sugars, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 5 g of sugars per 100 g for solids or 2,5 g of sugars per 100 ml for liquids.

Sugars-Free
A claim that a food is sugars-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 sugars per 100 g or 100 ml.

With No Added Sugars
A claim stating that sugars have not been added to a food, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product does not contain any added mono- or disaccharides or any other food used for its sweetening properties. If sugars are naturally present in the food, the following indication should also appear on the label: ‘Contains Naturally Occurring Sugars’.

Low Sodium/Salt
A claim that a food is low in sodium/salt, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 0,12 g of sodium, or the equivalent value for salt, per 100 g or per 100 ml. For waters, other than natural mineral waters falling within the scope of Directive 80/777/EEC, this value should not exceed 2 mg of sodium per 100 ml.

Very Low Sodium/Salt
A claim that a food is very low in sodium/salt, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 0,04 g of sodium, or the equivalent value for salt, per 100 g or per 100 ml. This claim shall not be used for natural mineral waters and other waters.

Sodium-Free or Salt-Free
A claim that a food is sodium-free or salt-free, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 0,005 g of sodium, or the equivalent value for salt, per 100 g.

Source of Fibre
A claim that a food is a source of fibre, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains at least 3 g of fibre per 100 g or at least 1,5 g of fibre per 100 kcal.

High Fibre
A claim that a food is high in fibre, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains at least 6 g of fibre per 100 g or at least 3 g of fibre per 100 (kcal.

Source of Protein
A claim that a food is a source of protein, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where at least 12 % of the energy value of the food is provided by protein.

High Protein
A claim that a food is high in protein, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where at least 20 % of the energy value of the food is provided by protein.

Source of (Name of Vitamin/s) And/Or (Name of Mineral/s)
A claim that a food is a source of vitamins and/or minerals, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains at least a significant amount as defined in the Annex to Directive 90/496/EEC or an amount provided for by derogations granted according to Article 6 of Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain other substances to foods (1).

High (Name of Vitamin/s) And/Or (Name of Mineral/s)
A claim that a food is high in vitamins and/or minerals, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains at least twice the value of ‘source of [Name of vitamin/s] and/or [Name of mineral/s]’.

Contains (Name of the Nutrient or Other Substance)
A claim that a food contains a nutrient or another substance, for which specific conditions are not laid down in this Regulation, or any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product complies with all the applicable provisions of this Regulation, and in particular Article 5. For vitamins and minerals the conditions of the claim ‘source of’ shall apply.

Increased (Name of Nutrient)
A claim stating that the content in one or more nutrients, other than vitam ins and minerals, has been increased, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product meets the conditions for the claim ‘source of’ and the increase in content is at least 30 % compared to a similar product.

Reduced (Name of Nutrient)
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.

Light/Lite
A claim stating that a product is ‘light’ or ‘lite’, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, shall follow the same conditions as those set for the term ‘reduced’; the claim shall also be accompanied by an indication of the characteristic(s) which make(s) the food ‘light’ or ‘lite’.

Naturally/Natural
Where a food naturally meets the condition(s) laid down in this Annex for the use of a nutritional claim, the term ‘naturally/natural’ may be used as a prefix to the claim.

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