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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 12:36 GMT
Clampdown on food claims
Food
Many products carry nutrition claims
Many health and nutritional claims on food products could be banned under strict legislation proposed by the European Union.

Under a draft seen by the BBC, vague slogans like "low-fat" and "promotes well-being" would not be allowed.

In future, most health claims would need approval by a new agency, the European Food Safety Authority.

The European Commission believes consumers are bewildered, and often misled, by the growing number of foods claiming health benefits.

It would ensure that consumers are not misled by the nutrition and health claims that are increasingly being made for foods
Food Standards Agency
It is particularly concerned about foods targeted at slimmers and children.

The draft law would ban unverifiable slogans, such as "boosts your immune system" and "halves your calorie intake".

It would also outlaw confusing phrases such as "80% fat free" where a product actually contains 20% fat.

Terms such as "low fat", "high fibre", and "low sugar" would all be strictly regulated.

Endorsements of food products by medical associations would also be prohibited.

A spokesperson for the UK Food Standards Agency welcomed the proposals.

She said: "It would ensure that consumers are not misled by the nutrition and health claims that are increasingly being made for foods.

"We particularly welcome the proposal to ban claims like "80% fat free" which are confusing.

"And we welcome the proposal of a prior approvals system which would ensure that claims cannot be made until an independent panel has examined the evidence behind them."




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