We’re delighted to present to you the next instalment of our Regulatory Updates. Our Technical & Regulatory Executive at HTC Health, Kwame Otchere, prepares a monthly round-up covering a broad scope of news related to the European VMS industry that we think our customers might find relevant and useful.
Irish tax plans place food supplements out of the reach of many people
Professor John Nolan, founder of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, believes Ireland’s plans to tax food supplements will price out many consumers. The country introduced the standard VAT rate of 23% for all food supplements, because they no longer consider them to be foods for VAT reasons. The Nutrition Centre Ireland believes these tax plans will cause consumers to miss out on their benefits.
Also, many supplements in the Irish market come from the United Kingdom. If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal then imports of food supplements from the UK into Ireland could attract a 12.8% tariff. This could lead to a near 40% increase in food supplement prices.
CBD Manufacturer calls for greater regulatory controls
A cannibidiol (CBD) manufacturer has called for tighter regulatory control on CBD products. This was after carrying out tests on several CBD products, and discovering more than half were inaccurately labelled. The Cannabinol (CBN) and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in several products was above the 1mg legal limit. Less than half (13) of the products were within 10% of the stated level of CBD and 4 samples contained less than 50% of the stated quantity.
According the UK government’s Home Office, CBD is not a controlled substance as long as it does not contain any THC or CBN. However, it is difficult to completely extract CBD from THC and CBN. The manufacturer plan to apply for a Novel Food because “appropriate pre-market authorisation, we will deliver CBD products that we can see unfit to be on the market”.
CTA opposed to CBD Novel Food Application
The Cannabis Trading Association (CTA) will not submit a Novel Food application for their CBD products, due to regulatory uncertainty. The CTA argue that cannabis extracts are not novel and that also “any opinions may be EFSA cannot be legally relied upon to secure a prosecution for breach of novel foods regulation”. Any novel food application would cause products to be removed off the market until authorisation had been granted.
There are mixed views in the industry on whether CBD product should be considered novel. For example, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis believes CBD is novel and they plan to submit an application. There is currently one application, by Cannabis Pharma from Czech Republic, which has been submitted for authorisation as a food supplement.
EC may push for further food labelling harmonisation across member states
The incoming European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, may push to further harmonise food labelling regulations and increase transparency about nutrition. This includes mandatory origin labelling, animal welfare standards for meat and dairy products, and nutrition claims labelling.
Several countries have implemented mandatory country of origin for particular food groups, with milk and dairy products being the most common. Kyriakides stated she was “concerned about high number of food products bearing nutrition claims actually have a high level of sugar, fat or salt”, which can mislead consumers.
Italy establishes amino acid purity levels in food supplements
Italian food authorities have published guidance on amino acid supplement purity. They become the second country in Europe to do so after Denmark.
The guidance is in line with EC Regulation 609/2013, which provides details on purity values for substances used in specific food groups.
The European Commission extends the use of Whey Protein
The European Commission has extended the use of whey protein isolate from bovine milk as a novel food in supplements and infant formulas.
Infants up to 12 months are allowed to consume up to 25 mg per day. Powders intended for this age group can contain up to 30mg of whey protein isolate per 100g or 3.9mg per 100ml.
Germany to introduce Nutri-score food labelling
Germany is following in the footsteps of France and Belgium, by introducing the Nutri-score nutrition label. This decision was made after a consumer survey determined this to be the best form of labelling.
Nutri-score used a colour scale from red to green and letter scale from A to E to indicate how healthy a product is. The algorithm awards points for beneficial nutrients such as proteins, fibre, and percentage of fruit, vegetables & nuts. Points are deducted for containing less beneficial nutrients like excess energy, saturated fats, sugars and salt.
This model is expected to help make choosing healthy food easier. Consumer groups want to make this a mandatory labelling requirement across Europe.
ASA rules social media posts broke health claim regulations
The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency has upheld several complaints against companies that regularly use celebrity influencers to promote ‘weight loss’ product on Instagram. Posts by Katie Price and a former Love Island contestant were promoting ‘weight loss’ products but the claims made were not authorised by the EU Health Claims register.
One of the ingredients used in one of the weight loss products was glucomamman, which does have an authorised EU claim relating to weight loss. However, for this claim to be made it must state that “glucomannan contributes to weight loss only in the context of an energy restricted diet, and that the beneficial effect is obtained daily intake of 3 g of glucomannan in three doses of 1 grams each, together with 1-2 glasses of water, before meals.” However, the advertisement did not include the required information and therefore the complaint has been upheld.
If you have any questions relating to the news presented above, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information, as we’d be happy to advise.