Enforcement of the approved EU list of food-related health claims - rubber-stamped last week by the European Parliament - is likely to be inconsistent in the UK, lawyers have warned.
The responsibility for ensuring manufacturers limit claims to a list of 222 permitted statements will fall to Trading Standards and the ASA.
Eversheds senior partner Owen Warnock predicted Trading Standards would shy away from taking legal action against any bar the most blatant breaches for cost reasons. However, he added, the ASA was likely to take a tougher line. “We will probably therefore see more action taken in relation to adverts than labels,” he said.
The list is expected to be interpreted differently from country to country because of grey areas in the rules. “When does saying positive things become an implied health claim?” asked Warnock.
Some brands have already begun to adopt more subtle branding. For example, Danone’s Activia has replaced the on-pack claim that the yoghurt “helps reduce digestive transit” with a stomach visual.