General principles were put before an informal meeting in Brussels back in June where experts from 17 Member States met to discuss a common approach on advising industries about the flexibility of wording for health claims, which was finally agreed on and put to paper in December.
Taking into account Recital (9) of EU Regulation 432/2012; “to ensure health claims are truthful, clear, reliable and useful to the consumer, the wording and presentation of such claims are high priority," the document outlines general principles that can help to avoid confusion for consumers but also notes that authorities in some Member States may have developed more detailed national recommendations.
“The aim of this document is to set out the principles that should be respected when authorised health claims are used but the wording used is not exactly as authorised.”
The document features the recommendation that manufacturers stick as close as possible to the authorised wording of health claims to ensure that consumers are provided with the appropriate information, which in return should help enforcement officers to judge whether claims are being used in compliance with the law.
“If the wording of a health claim is adjusted, the first principle to be respected is that the adapted wording must mean the same to a consumer as the authorised claim in the Register since this has been substantiated by scientific evidence.”
Thus, the document strongly highlights that a claim must not be made ‘stronger’ than the authorised claim.
What may be justifiable, according to the Member States, is in an instance where an authorised claim such as; “X contributes to the maintenance of normal skin” can be permitted to be worded as “X contributes to maintaining normal skin” or “X contributes to supporting the maintenance of normal skin”.
To see the full rundown of the recommendations, please see here.