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Health-related advertising claims: Health claims for food supplements

Health-related promises for food and food supplements should be comprehensible for consumers. The so-called Health Claims list what may be said and what may not be said. Therefore, our hands are tied with some vital substances, although we would like to write more about our conviction regarding the quality and benefits of our products. We take a closer look at the Health Claims.

What are Health Claims actually?

Health Claims are health and nutritional advertising claims about food. Since 2012, food may only be advertised using health claims approved by the EU.

This is to protect consumers. It is often difficult or even impossible for buyers to assess the truth of health and nutritional claims on products, let alone to verify them.

This is why the EU has banned some scientifically untenable promises.

What is behind the Health Claims Regulation?

In 2006, the European Union decided that health claims on food must be approved by the EU. Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 came into force. As a result, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientifically reviewed the advertising claims submitted by manufacturers from all EU Member States.

There were so many applications that the EU did not publish a list of 222 permitted health claims until five years later, in spring 2012. Since then, the list has been continuously expanded. Today, it comprises about 250 claims.

What does the Health Claims Regulation mean for Vitamaze?

Food supplements, as the name suggests, serve to supplement the normal intake of vital substances through diet (in people with an increased need for vitamins and minerals, e.g. athletes) and are legally not considered as drugs or medicines but as food. For this reason Vitamaze is also bound by the provisions of the Health Claims Regulation.

We therefore (almost) never talk about the "effect" of our food supplements, and if we do, we use the wording provided by the Health Claims Regulation for this purpose. This sometimes sounds a bit unusual or clumsy. For example, the regulation allows the following statements about iron: "Iron contributes to a normal energy metabolism" and "Iron contributes to a normal oxygen transport in the body". Perhaps you have already wondered why we make such and similar statements about our products. It is because of the Health Claims Regulation.

What does the Health Claims Regulation allow

Today there are about 250 health claims approved by the European Commission. If a manufacturer wants to use one of these claims, it must refer to the ingredient in question, not to the entire product.

For example, it is not the lemon, but the ingredient Vitamin C that "contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system". The prescribed wording of the approved health claims must be adhered to as far as possible.

Not all foods advertised with Health Claims are useful

Some manufacturers even add additional nutrients to their products in order to be able to use the desired advertising message, e.g. if the food in question is nutritionally rather unfavourable, sugary or high-fat.

Therefore it is always a good idea to take a close look at the composition of the food and to critically question what is really good for your body. Pure foods that are as unprocessed as possible are of course always better than highly processed products, for which the list of ingredients and additives is often very long.

Nutrients and substances with permitted health claims

Many permissible health-related claims in the Health Claims Regulation revolve around vitamins and minerals. Vitamaze may use health claims for these ingredients, among others:

If you would like more information on health claims, you can download the list of EFSA-approved claims for reference.


Picture: istockphoto | Aramyan

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