Expert opinion on health claims

As part of proposed harmonisation of European food law the European Commission released directive (2003) 424. This related to proposed regulation of Nutrition and Health Claims Made on Foods. Alimentarius were approached by the sports nutrition company Maximuscle to review the directive and provide feedback. As a founder member of the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) Maximuscle requested that the report specifically addressed the potential impact for its own business, the sports supplement industry in general and consumers. Alimentarius identified two areas of particular concern for ESSNA members, which fell under Article 11 (Prohibited Health Claims) and Article 12 (Generally accepted claims). The feedback from Alimentarius was used to help overturn the Article 11 proposal to prohibit products from carrying claims relating to weight and fat loss. Our feedback relating to article 12 helped to ensure flexibility in health claim wording on pack and in advertising. This meant manufacturers of sports supplements could communicate the benefits of their products effectively, while consumers could easily identify products with the benefits and characteristics they were looking for.

Health claims – Use in all media

A major UK online supplement retailer was under increasing commercial pressure from competitors and wanted to maintain both sales and brand profile. Their product range included vitamins, minerals, protein powders, energy supplements and botanicals. They approached a nutrition consultancy firm to assess the possibility of using health claims to help promote their products, but were advised ‘this was not possible’. The company then approached Alimentarius and after careful evaluation of the companies’ products it was clear that the most of their product range could in fact carry health claims. We provided our clients with a selection of consumer friendly claims for their products. These were incorporated onto product packaging, iinto company catalogues, magazine advertising, point of sale material and website and resulted in significant sales increases. Despite the absence of health claims on some products these also showed an up-lift in sales. This was partially caused by the ‘halo’ effect of products with health claims and the perceived improvement in brand quality. The sales increases were used to consolidate our clients position in the UK market and provided a platform to increase sales within the EU.

Boots – Fat loss supplement

A US based supplement manufacturer wanted to sell its premium fat loss supplement in the high street retailer Boots. This is the most popular chemist in the UK and in addition to prescriptions they sell a range of health and beauty products, which include fat loss supplements. The use of false and misleading advertising claims on health and beauty products is common, particularly for fat loss supplements. Boots are unusual as prior to obtaining a retail listing their experts assess the evidence to support each products marketing claims. Boots internal experts also take steps to asses the efficacy of the weight management products stocked. Alimentarius prepared the dossier of scientific evidence to support the marketing claims on our clients fat loss supplement. The dossier Alimentarius prepared included support claims for weight management, fat loss and fat burning. After review by Boots’s expert team our clients product successfully obtained a retail listing in their stores.