Differences in EU and UK health claims registers post-Brexit
Stacey Lockyer, British Nutrition Foundation
The EU regulation on nutrition and health claims has been retained for use in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) post Brexit* (the EU Regulation remains in force in Northern Ireland due to the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland). This means that all of the nutrition and health claims that were listed in the EU Register of Health Claims, as of 1st January 2021, have been included in the new Great Britain Nutrition and Health Claims Register. Anyone wishing to make a new health claim on a product in Britain that is not included in the British register must submit an application for that claim to be assessed and authorised before it can be used. In order to process these applications, the UK Nutrition and Health Claims Committee has been set up to advise the UK government on the strength of the scientific evidence in support of new health claims. The Committee published its first Scientific Opinion, which is on a combination of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin and improved visual performance, on 1st September 2021. The UK government and devolved administrations in England, Wales and Scotland make the final decisions on whether to authorise health claims that have received a positive opinion from the UK Nutrition and Health Claims Committee and whether there are to be specific conditions of use.
The 21st of April 2021 saw the first example of a health claim authorised in the EU that does not apply in Great Britain. The claim, ‘Carbohydrate solutions contribute to the improvement of physical performance during a high-intensity and long-lasting physical exercise in trained adults’, has several conditions of use, including that it may be used only for carbohydrate solutions which provide between 30 g and 90 g of carbohydrates/hour, where the carbohydrates in question are glucose, sucrose, fructose and/or maltodextrins. In order for this new EU health claim to be used in Great Britain, a separate application would need to be made to the Department of Health and Social Care and the evidence assessment and authorisation process, now in place for Great Britain, followed.
*as amended by the Nutrition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Nutrition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020