A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down. You just can’t advertise it. At least not according to the European Commission.

The European “Food Claims Regulation” prohibits food manufacturers from making health claims in respect of their products unless they are authorised by the Commission.

In order to become authorised the claims must undergo a scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority.

Dextro Energy submitted the following claims in relation to its glucose products: “Glucose is metabolised within the body’s normal energy metabolism”; “Glucose contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism”; “Glucose is metabolised within the body’s normal energy metabolism during exercise”; “Glucose supports normal physical activity”; and “Glucose contributes to normal muscle function during exercise”.

These claims were assessed and approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, despite receiving approval from the EFSA, the Commission refused to authorise the claims.

In the Commission’s view these claims were contrary to the message being conveyed by national and international authorities that the public should be reducing their intake of sugar. They held that such claims could cause confusion because of the apparently conflicting message, which could not be alleviated by additional statements or warnings.

Dextro Energy applied to the General Court of the European Union to overturn the Commission’s decision. However, it was unsuccessful as the court agreed that claims which only highlight the benefits of glucose consumption were misleading.

Whilst “Brexit” has thrown the question of European Regulation for UK manufacturers into the air, it seems unlikely that UK manufacturers will be able to export goods to the EU that do not comply with the Union’s regulations.