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France: Food label health claims reviewed

2/8/11 www.connexionfrance.com

THOUSANDS of health claims made by food manufacturers could be banned or reworded due to new regulations.

The French consumer protection watchdog DGCCRF is reinforcing its spot checks on products as part of a bigger, Europe-wide initiative that should come into force by 2013.

Some 2,700 claims will be assessed for their truthfulness, and producers face fines of up to €375,000 for misleading advertising if they continue to make claims that cannot be backed up.

The new European directive will also mean clearer labelling of nutritional content on food packaging.

Calories, fat, sugar, protein and salt content must be displayed on all packaging and must be clearly visible. There will also be more restrictions on the use of words such as “light”.

The DGCCRF has a lab in Strasbourg which takes samples from products found on the supermarket shelves and compares the contents to the packaging.

The group’s head of nutritional research Guillaume Cousyn told Le Figaro that producers have had “almost total freedom” in the past and the tougher controls should help protect consumers.

Consumer watchdog CLCV is currently taking action against dairy producer Candia, which is selling a milk that claims to use “a revolutionary concept that helps you eat less”.

The group has already successfully sued Gerblé for selling an energy bar that claimed to boost your memory. 

Meanwhile, a documentary on Canal+ this weekend claimed some food producers were wrongly labelling food as halal.

Eight MPs called for a parliamentary investigation into the findings and want clearer legislation on halal produce.

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