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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Sep 1;501(1):6-15. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2010.04.012. Epub 2010 Apr 22.

Status of nutrition and health claims in Europe.

Author information

  • 1National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), The Netherlands. Hans.verhagen@rivm.nl


Functional foods are closely associated with claims on foods. There are two categories of claims on foods: nutrition claims and health claims. Health claims on (functional) foods must be scientifically substantiated. In December 2006, the European Union published its Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. As concerns scientific evaluation, the EU-project PASSCLAIM resulted in a set of criteria for the scientific substantiation of health claims on foods. The European Food Safety Authority provides the scientific advise to the European Commission for health claims submitted under Regulation 1924/2006 and has hitherto published several hundreds of opinions on health claims, part of which are positive, part which are negative and a few with insufficient evidence. Antioxidant claims have been approved for the general function of vitamins but not for direct health effects in humans. Another issue with claims is consumer understanding. Consumers can hardly distinguish between graded levels of evidence, and they do make only little or no distinction between nutrition and health claims. Consumers understand nutrition and health claims different from scientists and regulators. Therefore, innovation in industry can readily proceed via approved nutrition claims and approved health claims. The market and the shelves in the stores will not be empty; rather they will look different in the years to come.

2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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