The Joint Health Claims Initiative has stopped accepting applications for claims approval and is reconsidering its role, according to executive director Melanie Ruffell.
Ruffell said that upcoming EU legislation would expand the roles of the
FSA and European Food Standards Authority and supercede the JHCI. The legislation was approved last week by the EU Parliament, with the European Council poised to enact it this summer. The rules would be phased in over several years.
&"The JHCI is not taking any more claims,&" Ruffell told The Grocer at a Food and Drink Federation
seminar on lifestyle and nutritional trends. &"Given that legislation is coming, our role will have to change. It will be up to the board and our industry stakeholders to decide the future.&"
Ruffell said that because the JHCI had expertise in nutrition and EU regulations, she was confident it would remain valuable to the industry during the transition to the new regulatory environment.
The JHCI is a joint venture between UK consumer organisations, enforcement authorities and trade associations. It manages a code of practice and provides independent opinions on nutritional claims involving food products. Among the claims it has approved is one linking Omega-3 with a lower risk of heart disease.
Also speaking at the FDF event, Datamonitor analyst John Band said there was a growing opportunity for supermarkets to profit from own label opportunities in functional foods.
Band revealed figures showing that while UK
consumers believed in improving their health through diet, they had relatively little trust in food companies compared with medical organisations.
This, Band said, suggested that supermarkets could build on their high levels of brand equity and trust by launching more own label functional products.