Glycaemic index labeling and related claims

The EU Commission just answered to a Member of the European Parliament query about the chance to do glycaemic index claims on the labels in EU.

The answer is interesting in the sense that opens half a door to national interpretation by competent authorities about the issue.

Please do share your thoughts and experience regarding this interpretation of the EU Commission and national enforcement. This would be of great help to many peers.

29th November 2018 – Question for written answer E-006064-18 to the Commission

Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods lays down the criteria to be met by such claims. This would appear to cover glycaemic index labelling, which provides important indications regarding the metabolic effects of a given food product.

In this connection, it appears that 16 applications for health claim authorisations seeking to establish a link between the glycaemic index of a food or food ingredient and its effects on health have apparently been rejected.

Can the Commission say whether glycaemic index food labelling falls under Regulation (EC) 1924/2006?

If not, what provisions apply to glycaemic index labelling?

24th January 2019 – Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the European Commission

The Commission considers claims referring to the glycaemic index (GI) of a food as falling under the scope of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 (1).

In the context of the assessment of health claims applications on carbohydrates with a low GI, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) considered that carbohydrates with a low GI are not sufficiently characterised. EFSA further explained that ‘the GI of a carbohydrate-containing food depends on several factors other than the amount of available (glycaemic) carbohydrates present (e.g. amount and type of dietary fibre, amount of dietary fat, energy density, physical properties, mode of preparation) […]’ (2).

Nevertheless, EFSA assessed in the past with a favourable outcome several health claims on the reduction of post-prandial glycaemic response as the specific health benefit. The latter is reflected in the authorised wording of the corresponding permitted health claims (3).

When enforcing EC law in this context, Member States may allow GI-claims accompanied by or similar to the authorised claims on post-prandial glycaemic response within the limits set by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

(1) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32006R1924&from=en
(2) https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1491
(3) Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02012R0432-20170822&from=EN

(Source: EU Parliament)

Some examples of actual authorised health claims on the reduction of post-prandial glycaemic response:

  1. Consumption of beta-glucans from oats or barley as part of a meal contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal

(The claim may be used only for food which contains at least 4 g of beta-glucans from oats or barley for each 30 g of available carbohydrates in a quantified portion as part of the meal. In order to bear the claim information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming the beta-glucans from oats or barley as part of the meal).

2. Consumption of arabinoxylan as part of a meal contributes to a reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal

(The claim may be used only for food which contains at least 8 g of arabinoxylan (AX)-rich fibre produced from wheat endosperm (at least 60 % AX by weight) per 100 g of available carbohydrates in a quantified portion as part of the meal. In order to bear the claim information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming the arabinoxylan (AX)-rich fibre produced from wheat endosperm as part of the meal).