Nutrition and health claims communication considerations for food and supplement brands webinar – a summary
30th May 2023
Written by HRS Communications
Communicating the message of your food or supplement brand to consumers, whilst abiding by the tightly regulated nutrition and health claims legislation, can be a challenging task. That’s why HRS Communications experts, Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan and Donia Hilal, explained how to navigate this topic. In collaboration with the The Nutrition Society, they presented a webinar on ‘Communication considerations for food and supplement brands’.
The webinar set out to educate listeners on key nutrition and health considerations for food and supplement brands. It also demonstrated how branded claims and botanical on-hold claims can be implemented. Therefore, if you haven’t watched the webinar yet, here’s our key takeaways.
Nutrition and health claims
A nutrition or health claim is a message or representation that states or implies that a brand has a particular characteristic. Claims are legally defined and should not be misleading or discouraging of a healthy diet.
Health and nutrition claims are defined across Europe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, since Brexit England, Scotland and Wales are now governed by the Great Britain nutrition and health claims (NHC) register and annex.1 Although, at present there is little variation between the two registers. Over time, as new claims are submitted this may change.
The key difference between a nutrition claim and a health claim is that a nutrition claim refers to the nutritional composition of a food. On the other hand, a health claim refers to the food in relation to a function of the body.
For example, stating that a product ‘contains calcium’ would be a nutrition claim. However, adding that ‘calcium is needed for the maintenance of healthy bones’ is a health claim.
Botanical and on-hold claims
Botanical claims are often seen as a grey area of health legislation. There are currently 44,000 unauthorised claims that have been submitted to EFSA which are known as on-hold claims.
These on-hold claims will not be assessed further. Therefore, it is up to the manufacturer to investigate the scientific evidence behind their claim.
This means that there is a wider scope to make botanical claims than the strictly regulated nutrition and health claims. However, it is important that the amount needed to receive benefit is stated. Also, claims should never be of medical nature.
Comparative claims can be challenging to make and require evidence. However, they can be very effective when used correctly.
When making a comparative claim, it is important that the comparisons are made within the same food category and compare the same quantity of food. For example, the amount of calcium in a chocolate bar cannot be compared with the amount in a glass of milk.
Comparative claims also require a high level of market data. For example, making the claim that a product is 30% lower in fat would need to be backed up by evidencing any competitors. Even using words such as ‘reduced’, ‘increased’ and ‘light’ are all types of comparative claims.
Any claims referencing the amount or rate of weight loss, recommendations of health professionals or alcohol-containing products can not be made.
However, there is currently debate on whether unqualified celebrities are making unauthorised health claims. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals who are experts in their field are prohibited from doing so.
The webinar gave an insightful introduction to important communication considerations for brands that directly target consumers. Our HRS experts highlighted that if used correctly, making nutrition and health claims can be a powerful way to highlight the benefits of your product.
To watch the full webinar, visit The Nutrition Society website here: https://nutritionsociety.academy/content/communication-coupplement-brands/
- Department of Health and Social Care (2020). Great Britain nutrition and health claims (NHC) register. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/great-britain-nutrition-and-health-claims-nhc-register [Accessed 16 May 2023].