Right up front, we have to tell you we aren’t lawyers and this is not legal advice, but some guidance to think about when trying to comply with the health claims regulations online.

 

When communicating the nutritional value and health effects of food and drink to the public, we all need to follow a set of rules contained in EU legislation (the so called “Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation”). This applies equally to all food and drink, whether dairy products or otherwise.

These Regulations were set up to protect consumers from incorrect and misleading claims on the positive effect of food and drink on health. Nowadays any claim made on ANY food or drink product – whether on-pack, online or in other communication to the public – needs to be compliant with this regulation.

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF CLAIMS:

Nutrition claims

We use these to indicate whether a particular food or drink is a “source of” or is “high in” a specific nutrient, for example saying “Cheddar is a source of protein” and “whole milk is high in calcium”. In order to use these claims, we need to ensure that our food or drink contains at least a certain amount of that specific nutrient. These amounts are set out in EU law and vary from nutrient to nutrient.

Example:

AUTHORISED NUTRITION CLAIM: we can claim that whole milk is “high in calcium” because it contains more than 120mg of calcium per 100ml, which is the amount necessary to make this type of claim.

UNAUTHORISED NUTRITION CLAIM: you couldn’t claim that Carrots are “high in vitamin C” because they contain less than the amount of the nutrient necessary to make this claim.

Health claims

We use these to indicate whether a food, drink or nutrient has a positive effect on health. Any health claim used in reference to a food or a drink must be authorised by the EU – you can find a full list of authorised claims here.

Examples of authorised health claims include “Protein is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children” and “Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal teeth”. Remember that, although we are allowed to make a number of health claims on the nutrients which dairy products are sources of, we cannot make health claims on the food products themselves.

We also need to be very careful and follow the exact wording of the authorised claim. Claiming “Whole milk is needed for the maintenance of normal teeth” is not the same as claiming “Whole milk is needed for the maintenance of strong teeth”!

Example:

AUTHORISED HEALTH CLAIM: we can say: “Whole milk is high in calcium.  Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal teeth” (Note: a claim stating that “whole milk is needed for the maintenance of normal teeth” is not authorised).

UNAUTHORISED HEALTH CLAIM: you couldn’t claim that “soy helps keep the arteries healthy and helps keep a healthy heart” as this claim is not authorised.