Health claim means any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health. Health claims are divided into the following categories.
Article 13 health claims (= functional claims):
- claims that refer to the role of a nutrient or other substance in growth, development and the functions of the body
- claims that refer to psychological and behavioural functions
- claims that describe slimming or weight control or a reduction in the sense of hunger or an increase in the sense of satiety or to the reduction of the available energy from the diet.
Article 14 health claims
- claims that refer to the reduction of disease risk (=risk factor)
- claims that refer to children's development and health.
The starting point for the use of health claims is that claims cannot be used until the scientific substantiation for the claim has been approved. The European Food Safety Authority EFSA assesses the substantiation on which the claim is based and after that the claim is authorised or rejected by the European Commission under a regulation.
Health claims may only be used in the labelling, advertising or other presentation of foodstuffs provided the claims have been authorised and they are included in the lists of permitted claims referred to in Articles 13 and 14.
The European Commission maintains a register of authorised and unauthorised claims. Moreover, certain claims are still waiting for the Commission's final decision and therefore these claims may for the time being be used in the marketing of food (cf. claims related to herbal substances).