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).

Written QeA to EU Commission – Restrictions to the free movement of goods – Bottling of Sardinian myrtle liqueur (Mirto di Sardegna)

An interesting Q&A with the EU Commission about the extent of GIs protection and requirements for the registration in the spirit drinks sector.

Question for written answer to the Commission,

Giulia Moi (EFDD), 30th October 2015

Subject:  Bottling of Sardinian myrtle liqueur (Mirto di Sardegna)

The Commission has still to recognise ‘Mirto di Sardegna’ as an agri‐food brand, despite the fact that the Italian Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies issued a decree to that effect in July 2013.

The decree laid down that this myrtle liqueur could only be bottled on the territory of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia in order to guarantee its quality and ensure that the consumer is provided with precise information as to its origin.

The Commission seems to be opposed to this clause on the grounds that this would infringe principles of free competition. However, it is widely-known that transporting this liqueur over long distances can affect its stability and vitiate the qualities and characteristics that make it a unique product.

Does the Commission not consider that if a product similar to Mirto di Sardegna were to deteriorate during transport this could be attributed to risks associated with bottling and damage the reputation of the whole industry?

Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission – 8th January 2016

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Written Question E-002992/2013 (1).

In the European Union spirit drinks are regulated by Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 (2) and the Implementing Regulation (EU) No 716/2013 (3). According to these Regulations, restrictions such as the obligation to package the spirit drink in a defined geographical area constitute restrictions to the free movement of goods and the freedom to provide services. They shall be allowed if the restrictions are necessary, proportionate and suitable to protect the reputation of the geographical indication (4).

Following a first analysis of the technical file of the Italian geographical indication (GI) ‘Mirto di Sardegna’, the Commission services asked Italy for clarifications in relation to the obligation to bottle the spirit drinks covered by that GI in the area of production. Italy’s reply is under examination. Once the scrutiny is finalised, Italy will be informed about the results.

 

(1) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/parliamentary-questions.html
(2) Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15.1.2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89 (OJ L 39, 13.2.2008, p. 16‐54).
(3) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 716/2013 of 25.7.2013 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks (OJ L 201, 26.7.2013, p. 21‐30).
(4) According to the Recital 6 of Regulation No 716/2013 restrictions concerning the packaging of a spirit drink with a geographical indication, such as the obligation to package the spirit drink in a defined geographical area, constitute restrictions to the free movement of goods and the freedom to provide services. Such restrictions should only be allowed if they are necessary, proportionate and suitable to protect the reputation of the geographical indication. Article 10 of the same Regulation states that if the technical file sets out that packaging of the spirit drink must take place within the demarcated geographical area or in an area in its immediate proximity, justification for this requirement shall be given in respect of the product concerned.

(Source: EU Parliament)