India is moving toward a new legal framework on nutrition and health claims (NHC), as on 22 November 2017 its government notified the draft Food Safety and Standards (Advertisements and Claims) Regulations (2017) dealing with the specification and requirements for advertisements, and nutrition and health claims on foods.

It is worth noting that the Indian notified draft sets a list of authorised nutrition claims. As regards energy, the condition for a ‘low energy’ claim is that the food contains not more than 40 kcal per 100 g for solids and 20 kcal per 100 ml for liquids. In case of table-top sweeteners, the limit is of 4 kcal (17 kJ)/portion, with equivalent sweetening properties to 6 g of sucrose (approximately 1 teaspoon of sucrose). ‘Free energy’ claim may be used where the food contains not more than 4 kcal per 100 ml for liquids.

The same conditions are binding on the EU markets, according to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. The latter also regulates (and authorises) the ‘energy reduced’ claims. In this respect, the EU Commission seeks clarification on why the claim ‘energy-reduced’ and the twin claims ‘light’ and ‘lite’ have not been included in the draft.

At first sight this seems to be a moot point, since the draft enforces a number of internationally recognised definitions, such as ‘nutrient comparative claim’ (examples: reduced; less than; fewer; increased; more than etc.). And there is no quarrel that ‘energy reduced’ claims fall under this category. Additionally, this interpretation assures consistency with the Codex Alimentarius’s GUIDELINES FOR USE OF NUTRITION AND HEALTH CLAIMS (CAC/GL 23-1997).

However, the situation turns from moot to uncertain when it comes to ‘light’ or ‘lite’ claims, where the EU regulators prescribe the same conditions of use as those set for the term ‘reduced’.

It remains interesting to see the response of the Indian Government!




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