HFMA guidance aims to “demystify” claims regulation

The Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) is to publish guidance aimed at “demystifying” the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR).

With less than six months now remaining before the 14 December transition period deadline (requiring all commercial communications from food manufacturers to comply with the Regulation), the HFMA says it is taking the initiative to deliver practical guidance to members on how the NHCR will impact the businesses. In particular, where requirements have not yet been clarified by the authorities the HFMA will offer its interpretation of those requirements.

All claims not on the Permitted or ‘On-Hold’ lists published by the European Commission will be prohibited when the deadline ends. An indication of the gravity of this situation, says the HFMA, is that over 95% of the non-vitamin/mineral claims assessed to date – over 1,600 claims – have been placed on the Commission’s ‘Rejected’ list.

The HFMA warns that the implications from this legislation for manufacturers are far reaching and necessitate a significant review of all packaging, labelling and communications in advance of the fast `approaching December deadline.

To help members determine their plans for compliance with the NHCR, the ‘HFMA Guidance on Interpretation and Compliance with the Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation’ addresses key topics such as:

  • How long certain claims can continue to be made and by what date they will need to be changed
  • Clarification of timings for 2,233 claims that are currently included in ‘on-hold’ lists
  • Advice on products which are currently being reformulated with substances for which claims are permitted and/or not permitted

The Guidance will also aim to demystify the finer points of regulation – from the implication of engaging with health professionals, guidelines around the use of consumer testimonials to promote products, as well as specific references to substances such as glucosamine and chondroitin, probiotics, antioxidants and botanicals.

Graham Keen, executive director of the HFMA, said: “With the deadline for the NHCR compliance fast approaching, it is a vital time for manufacturers to ensure they are fully prepared. While the enforcement and interpretation of legislation is a matter for the applicable regulatory body and/or the courts, not the HFMA, we are aiming to provide guidance to members on our interpretation of the law, to best help them comply with this significant Regulation.”

“To coincide with the launch of this new guidance document, the HFMA is also holding a workshop on the interpretation and implementation of the NHCR, to take place on Tuesday, 18th September in central London. The workshop will be made available to members and non-members and will seek to guide companies through nutrition and health claims made in all commercial communications. Further details will be issued shortly.”