Regulatory Affairs Directorate
Market Surveillance Directorate

Foodstuffs

The general framework for food safety is based on the ‘Farm to fork’ principle and it applies to all food products and activities involving food, even if not carried out for profit. It is justified by the need to protect human health and it is intended to provide consumers with the necessary information. It also ensures fair trading and it provides a bases for the necessary public controls.

The legislation is based in the following principles:

  • Principle of proportionality: legal measures must not go further than is genuinely necessary to achieve the desired objectives
  • Internal market
  • Mutual Recognition Principle
  • Precautionary Principle
  • High level of protection of human health and life
  • Free movement of goods
  • Risk analysis
  • Protection of consumer interest 

 

Guidelines for Consumers buying foods with ‘claims’ on food packaging.

Aim of Legislation

The legislation was enacted to allow consumers to make informed food choices, by ensuring that they receive accurate information and are not misled.

  • Claims made on foods must be clear and understandable by the average consumer.
  • Claims that exaggerate a food’s expected health benefits and/or are not adequately substantiated by scientific evidence will no longer be permitted.

The legislation covers nutrition and health claims made on all foods marketed within the European Union and also includes:

food supplements, foods for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTS), natural mineral waters and water intended for human consumption.

And covers:

  • the use of all wording and symbols which imply that a food provides a particular nutritional or health benefit.
  • nutrition and health claims made in commercial communications whether in the labelling, presentation or advertising of foods to be delivered to the final consumer.

 Does not apply to:

Claims made in non-commercial communications, such as dietary guidelines or advice issued by public health authorities and bodies, or non-commercial communications and information in the press and in scientific publications.

What is a ‘claim’?

A ‘claim’ means any message or representation, which is not compulsory under Community or national legislation, including pictorial, graphic or symbolic representation, in any form, which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular characteristics.

What is a nutrition claim? 

A ‘nutrition claim’ means any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to:

            (a) the energy (calorific value) it

                        (i) provides;

                        (ii) provides at a reduced or increased rate; or

                        (iii) does not provide;

and/or

            (b) the nutrients or other substances it

                        (i) contains;

                        (ii) contains in reduced or increased proportions; or

                        (iii) does not contain;

What is a health claim?

 A ‘health claim’ means any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health.

For any further information please contact Mark Cassar (Senior Scientist, Regulatory Affairs, Technical Regulations Division) on tel. no.: 2395 2000 and email: mark-anthony.cassar@mccaa.org.mt

 

Guidelines for use by all food business operators (FBOs): manufacturers and importers / distributors in Malta that choose to use nutrition and / or health claims on food packaging.

The Regulation brings into line the requirements laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in the different Member States of the European Union (EU) which relate to nutrition and health claims, in order to ensure the effective functioning of the EU internal market whilst providing a high level of consumer protection. The Regulation also applies to nutrition and health claims made in commercial communications, whether in the labelling, presentation or advertising of foods to be delivered as such to the final consumer.

Aim of the Legislation

The legislation was enacted to allow consumers to make informed food choices, by ensuring that they receive accurate information and are not misled.

  • Claims made on foods must be clear and understandable by the average consumer.
  • Claims that exaggerate a food’s expected health benefits and/or are not adequately substantiated by scientific evidence will no longer be permitted.

What is a ‘claim’?

A ‘claim’ means any message or representation, which is not compulsory under Community or national legislation, including pictorial, graphic or symbolic representation, in any form, which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular characteristics.

What is a ‘nutrition claim’?

A ‘nutrition claim’ means any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to:

            (a) the energy (calorific value) it

                        (i) provides;

                        (ii) provides at a reduced or increased rate; or

                        (iii) does not provide;

and/or

             (b) the nutrients or other substances it

                        (i) contains;

                        (ii) contains in reduced or increased proportions; or

                        (iii) does not contain;


What is a ‘health claim’?

A ‘health claim’ means any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health.

What is a ‘reduction of disease risk claim’?

A ‘reduction of disease risk claim’ means any health claim that states, suggests or implies that the consumption of a food category, a food or one of its constituents significantly reduces a risk factor in the development of a human disease.

The key requirements of the Regulation are outlined below:

  • Claims must comply with the general requirements of the Regulation as specified in Article 3, which include not being false, ambiguous or misleading, not encouraging or condoning excess consumption of a food and not implying that a balanced diet cannot provide necessary nutrients
  • If a claim is made Article 7 makes it obligatory to provide nutrition labelling in most cases
  • Article 8 means that only nutrition claims listed in the Annex to the Regulation can be made on food and only if the product meets with the specific conditions of use for that claim.
  • Article 4 prohibits claims made on alcoholic beverages containing more than 1.2% by volume of alcohol, with limited exceptions for reduced energy or reduced alcohol and low alcohol content claims
  • Article 12 prohibits health claims which suggest that health could be affected by not consuming the food
  • Health claims which make reference to the rate or amount of weight loss are prohibited by Article 12
  • Article 12 states that health claims which make reference to recommendations of individual doctors or health professionals cannot be made on food.
  • As specified by Article 10, health claims must be authorised and included in the list of authorised health claims in the European Union (EU) Register, before they may be used on food. Products will also have to meet the specific conditions of use stated. Link to EU Register: http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims/?event=register.home
  • Article 4 of the Regulation puts in place provisions that may restrict the use of claims on certain foods or categories of foods based on their nutritional composition (nutrient profile). Food business operators will have two years to comply with these controls once the profiles are adopted.

Link to the Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation (EC) #1924 of 2006:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:2006R1924:20121129:EN:PDF

Link to the European Commission Guidance Document: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/labellingnutrition/claims/guidance_claim_14-12-07.pdf

When making a voluntary nutrition or health claim FBOs must comply with the requirements of European Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on food.

The legislation deals with nutrition and health claims and seeks to protect consumers from misleading or false claims. It harmonises legislation across the European Union making it easier to market and distribute trade throughout the whole of the EU and helps food business operators in complying with the law. The Regulation will also make it easier for FBOs to identify nutrition and health claims that can justifiably be used on a specific product.

Further info:

Though the Regulation covers nutrition and health claims made on all foods marketed within the European Union it also includes food supplements, foods for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTS), natural mineral waters and water intended for human consumption. And also includes: the use of all wording and symbols which imply that a food provides a particular nutritional or health benefit, and nutrition and health claims made in commercial communications whether in the labelling, presentation or advertising of foods to be delivered to the final consumer.

The regulation does not apply to:

Claims made in non-commercial communications, such as dietary guidelines or advice issued by public health authorities and bodies, or non-commercial communications and information in the press and in scientific publications.

Advantages for Food Business Operators (FBO)

Authorised claims are listed in the EU Register and as the authorised list is the same throughout the whole of the European Union, it allows FBOs to use these legislated and EFSA scientifically substantiated claims across the EU as a way of marketing their products.

By checking the EU Register FBOs can make sure that the claims stated on their food products are authorised, and permitted and conform to the provisions of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation. Unauthorised claims will not be permitted to be stated on the packaging and advertising of foods in Malta and in the whole of the EU.

For any further information please contact Mark Cassar (Senior Scientist, Regulatory Affairs, Technical Regulations Division) on tel. no.: 2395 2000 and email: mark-anthony.cassar@mccaa.org.mt

 

European Food Safety Authority – Maltese Focal Point                    

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has initiated Focal Points in the Member States to act as an interface between EFSA and the different national food safety authorities, research institutes, consumers and other EFSA-related stakeholders. The Focal Points ensure the exchange of food safety information between EFSA and national stakeholders through a national network.

EFSA is the keystone of European Union food and feed safety risk assessment. In close collaboration with national authorities and in open consultation with its stakeholders, EFSA provides independent scientific advice and clear communication on existing and emerging risks.

EFSA is connected with national food safety authorities via the EFSA Advisory Forum (AF). Through the AF, Member States advise EFSA on scientific matters as well on EFSA’s work programme and priorities.

The AF also helps address emerging risk issues as early as possible.

The main benefits anticipated from this cooperation includes the sharing of the burden of risk assessments, easy access to expertise not available at home and, in general, making the most efficient use of sparse and finite resources.

Maltese Focal Point of EFSA

In Malta, the Focal Point of the European Food Safety Authority is the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA).

What is the role of the Focal Point?

The role of the Focal Point is to act as a collaborative centre in Malta with the primary responsibility to support the Maltese representative of the Advisory Forum in gathering data and transferring information between EFSA and relevant bodies in Malta, which include risk managers, national authorities, stakeholders and research institutes in the fields of risk assessments on food and feed safety, animal and plant health, animal welfare and nutrition, and in communications in these areas.

The tasks for the Focal Point in supporting the Advisory Forum member of Malta shall be as follows:

1.  Ensure the exchange of information on:

  • The development of important risk assessment initiatives in Malta and in EFSA;
  • Results of relevant scientific research projects;
  • Ongoing risk assessments and opinions under preparation ;
  • Issues that may give rise to potential divergences of opinions between Malta and EFSA ;
  • Ensure close cooperation as far as appropriate on the preparation of EFSA’s and Maltese competent authorities’ Work Programmes;
  • Requests for specific information.

2.  Provide advice on:

  • Scientific actions of common interest that could be undertaken within the network, in particular in the framework of Article 36;
  • Review or proposals for new designations for updates of the list of competent organisations in Malta (Article 36 List);
  • Assignment of tasks to Competent Organisations on the List;
  • Monitor progress and performance of scientific work undertaken by Maltese organisations on the List;
  • The development and maintenance of databases of scientific experts and research organisations in Malta that could assist EFSA and the national authorities in conducting collaborative work in support of risk assessments in the area of food and feed safety;
  • Roster of national experts;
  • Requests to national experts.

3.  Provide support on:

  • Disseminating materials concerning EFSA within Malta;
  • Organising and co-ordinating in Malta the exchange of information and documentation concerning scientific activities of relevance to EFSA;
  • Providing an interface between EFSA and national level stakeholders;
  • Raise EFSA’s visibility in Malta.

  

Food Safety Act 2002.pdf

1998_247 - Nutrition Labelling Regulations.pdf

2004_483 - Labelling, Presentation and Advertising of Foodstuffs Regulations.pdf