Consumers being ‘misled’ as EU fails on nutrient profiles

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It’s been ten years since the EU Commission failed to publish nutrient profiles on food and drink products despite continual calls from consumer organisations.

The EU adopted legislation providing for these profiles in 2006. The Commission was required by law to publish them in 2009.

But 10 years later, there is still no sign of them. Instead, the Commission has initiated an evaluation of the Claims Regulation, which will examine whether the profiles are still needed.

According to European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), nutrient profiles would prevent the food industry from making unhealthy foods and drinks appear healthier than they are.

It would restrict the use of claims such as “source of calcium” or “boosts the immune system” on foods high in sugar and/or fat.

In 2018, BEUC and eleven of its member organisations found numerous examples of unhealthy foods marketed as being healthy across the EU market. One year later, they say, and still nothing has happened.

“The EU Commission has regrettably turned a deaf ear to our longstanding calls,” said Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC.

“Consumers have been misled by countless claims which disguise unhealthy foods as healthy options. The Commission could have stopped the tricks 10 years ago, had it fulfilled its duties.

“This delay is all the more unacceptable as weight issues are soaring in Europe. More than half of Europeans are overweight and run higher risks to develop diseases such as diabetes.

“Because appealing messages can strongly influence consumers when they buy foods or drinks, only healthy products deserve a claim.

“Nutrient profiles need to be adopted urgently to enable consumers to make healthier choices. Consumer organisations are waiting for the EU Commission to publish a report on this issue before it leaves office at the time of the European elections.”