Food manufacturers should audit the nutrition claims on their products to identify those that may require approval under new European rules, says law firm Eversheds.

The Food Standards Agency is consulting on the UK's implementation of the new EU Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims.

As well as proposing to make false or unsubstantiated claims a criminal offence, the consultation seeks views on draft guidance prepared by the FSA on how to comply with the EU regulation.

"It is in relation to health claims that the regulation will cause the most disruption and uncertainty," said Owen Warnock, food law expert at Eversheds.

"Any manufacturer considering submitting a claim should read the draft guidance as it contains suggestions about the kind of scientific evidence the Europ-ean Food Safety Authority is likely to demand.

"The guidance also contains an explanation of the limited transitional arrangements that will apply to some claims. Those relating to children, for instance, will be banned from 1 July. Time is of the essence if food businesses want to continue to use such claims on food labels and in advertising after the 1 July deadline."

The FSA's consultation closes on 24 May.