EU health claims Regulation 1924/2006 stated nutrient profiles to restrict the making of nutriton and health claims on foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) would be in place by 9 January 2009. However, last month and 2 years after this deadline, the European Commission was still unable to say when the nutrient profiling model might be finalised.
The issue of imposing a seemingly arbitrary divide between what may be perceived as 'good' and 'bad' foods (as opposed to good and bad diets) has caused great contention and is highly politicised, particularly with the possible exclusion of some, as yet unspecified, product categories and certain 'traditional foods'.
This delay is indicative of a Regulation that has been beset by difficulties of practical implementation, most notably the assessment process for health claims, the length of time taken to review over 4500 submitted claim applications and the level of claim substantiation required.
Opinion on nutrient profiles is divided between groups who argue that health claims for functional ingredients added to HFSS foods would mislead consumers into thinking they were eating healthily and those who believe that restricting claims for certain foods would unnecessarily demonise them, restrict transparency and consumer choice within that food category and act as a disincentive for industry to reformulate and innovate.
Moreover, with so many competing interest groups, the issue of where you draw the line, let alone technical issues of weight, portion size and category of food, means the debate and uncertainty in the implementation of this contentious Regulation is set to continue.