All food manufacturers operating in the EU must show there is a scientific basis for their health claims. The body responsible for assessing health claims is the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) using a panel of experts in the field to review the data provided by the manufacturer.
The expert panel also reviews all of the literature published on the subject and delivers an opinion on the claim to the EU Commission for final authorisation and publication on the EU Register.
Vitamins, minerals, fibre and fish oils account for more than 85% of the 222 authorised claims currently listed on the Register. Other foods and ingredients on the list include amino-acids/protein, plant sterols, micro-organisms and some botanicals (substances of plant origin). The authorised claims for plant sterols for cholesterol reduction are of particular importance as these address a major health issue across Europe.
The Register list will be lengthened periodically as some 1500 botanical claims still await assessment by EFSA, so the balance in the list will alter gradually with time.
Summary pages of the claims allowed for each of the main health conditions are available here but the precise legal status of any health claim must always be checked against the official Register.
Eventually authorised claims will only be allowed for foods that contain an appropriate balance of nutrients and nutrient profiles are being developed for the purpose.
More information on the scientific assessment of health claims can be found on the EFSA website by clicking here.
The regulatory background can be found on the European Commission website by clicking here