Dried fruits, watch out for the bins

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Dried fruits. There is no shortage of nutritional properties and health benefits, but some labels promise generic and unfounded health virtues, and others show ingredients other than the actual ones. Brief survey of shelf bins.

Dried fruits, nutritional properties and health benefits

The dried fruit is experiencing growing success, in Italy and Europe, thanks to the spread of proper nutrition education. (1) Nuts-once ‘demonized’ for their high energy value-have been gradually reevaluated in recent years by both nutritionists and prevention physicians. As a health ingredient to be included in a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

The nutritional properties of nuts are valued for their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as rich dietary fiber. Without neglecting plant protein intakes, which are of particular benefit to vegetarians and vegans. And a rich supply of vitamins and minerals.

The health benefits associated with regular consumption of nuts are equally noteworthy. Reduced risk of occurrence of cardiovascular disease, (2) diabetes, tumors. In more general terms, scientific research reports the decrease in ‘all-cause mortality‘. (3)

Dried fruits, the supply on the shelf

The offer of
snacks
made from dried nuts-sometimes in mixes with dried fruits such as blueberries, red currants, and goji-has literally exploded. Industry and distribution have been able to tap the demand for healthy food ‘on the go,’ often in single-serving format. With one essential distinction.

Serious operators-not surprisingly, market leaders, e.g., Noberasco, Ventura, Euro Company, New Factor(Mister Nut)-have developed product lines with quality ingredients. Which carry specific health claims on the label, true to current standards, which are based on actual micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) contents and their respective virtues.

Instead, the nut-based ‘bins’, on the shelf and for sale online, come from the less honest and otherwise ‘inattentive’ operators to the rules that have been in place in Europe for a dozen years on ‘Nutrition & Health Claims‘. (4) And even for 40 years, as far as food labeling is concerned. (5)

Dried fruit, bins and outlaw labels

A) Auchan, ‘Balance Breakfast Mix, with blueberries and goji berries‘, and ‘Energy Breakfast Mix, with cashews and pecans‘:

the health benefit suggested by the terms ‘Balance‘ and ‘Energy,’ reinforced by the image of a spoon that invokes the idea of a ‘recommended dose,’ is not supported by any health claim, as it should be. (6) The 41% carbohydrates of which 23% sugars actually induces one to consider that balance is precisely what the product so named lacks,

the amount of the characterizing ingredients is false. The ‘blueberries’ are in fact mixed with sugar and sunflower oil. They are therefore compound ingredients, the composition of which must be specified in the margin of their name (unlike the Auchan label, ‘Contains…’). And the QUID(Quantity of Ingredients Declaration) should be referred to the fruit, rather than its mixture with sugar and oil, (7)

– ‘may contain traces of other nuts‘. What does‘tracks‘ mean? And to which specific allergens refers to? The problem is serious and endangers the health of allergic consumers, the food is unsafe and should be withdrawn from the market.

B) Nut Club,
Superfood
(?):

– phony blueberries. Also here the ‘


dehydrated cranberries




‘ to which 20% of the ‘




Beauty Mix


‘ are mixed with brown sugar and sunflower oil in unknown amounts. It is therefore a case of the sale of ‘


aliud pro alio




‘, as per the ‘Kellogg’s school’

. As well as a specific violation of the regulation ‘


Food Information to Consumers




‘, (8)

– the allergens Are cited in blatant conflict with the rules set forth in the regulations ‘Food Information to Consumers‘ and in the appropriate EC Guidelines.. Where it refers to ‘



tracks









(?) of ‘




cereals containing





gluten




‘ without clarifying the grain of origin and to ‘




dried fruit


‘ without reporting its identity. Unacceptable violations that ihttps://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/controlli-il-ruolo-dellamministrazione-sanitaria/

and should lead to the sanitary seizure



of the products.

C )Fitvia, ‘
Fit Berry Detox Bar
‘:

– health claims ‘
detox
, ‘
super-healthy snack
‘ do not appear to be supported by any health claims under European regulations. Therefore, it is not understood which ingredient can perform the promised function, nor the conditions of use that should promote it,

the hypothesized virtues of the ingredients, referred to on the company website, lack the essential quali-quantitative references. Goji berries ‘rich in vitamins‘ (which ones and how many?) ‘protect the body‘ (which organs or tissues, how and why?), açaí berries ‘rich in antioxidants, activate metabolism‘ (?), wild cranberry (with ‘high antioxidant power‘. High compared to what?),

uncertain amount of cranberries, as in previous cases, which this time appear to have apple juice concentrate added (how much?). The indicated QUID, once again, turns out to be bogus,

– ‘
zero added sugars
‘, in a product whose first ingredient is dates and the second contains concentrated apple juice, is definitely outlawed, (9)

allergens, again, refer to ‘traces‘ of unidentified ‘nuts‘ and even to ‘fruit’, also unspecified, (10)

– ‘
raw ingredients
, ‘
vegans
e
natural
. Really? And how would they differ from those found in other products in the same commodity category? (11).

Bins,
health claims
and violations of law. What remedies?

The Supervisory Authority for Competition and the Market (AGCM, Antitrust), over the years, assessed several cases of violation of the regulation ‘Nutrition & Health Claims‘. Never enough. The powers, responsibilities and duties of:

– health authority, delegated to oversee the proper implementation of rules on nutrition and health claims. Applying the sanctions set forth in Legislative Decree 27/17,

ICQRF, designated which first(but not only) competent authority for controls on ‘Food Information Regulation‘,




– distribution




, responsible for verifying compliance

Of food distributed to current regulations. And co-responsible for related violations, on IDM (Industry Brand) products as well as MDD (Distributor Brand).

The year 2018 passed, with no major news on the effective implementation of the sanctions under Legislative Decrees 27/17 and 231/17. Which pertain to violations of the ‘Nutrition & Health Claims’ and ‘Food Information to Consumers’ regulations, respectively.

The few examples above express a needle in the haystack of outlaw labels and information, on the shelf and online. It is time to turn the page and bring legality back to a sector that is crucial to the country’s economy and the daily lives of its consumAtors. For good memory, we recall our free ebook ‘1169 penis. Reg. EU 1169/11, food news, controls and penalties‘.

Happy 2019, Fiat Lex!

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Cf. Guidelines for a healthy Italian diet, INRAN (2003), pp. 30-34, on. http://www.fao.org/3/a-as686o.pdf



(2) About the reduction in cardiovascular risk, see also the study cited at




https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/dieta-mediterranea-con-evoo-e-noci-salute-cardiovascolare




.



(3) Additional insights are offered by the ‘




Nutrition Foundation of Italy




‘, at




http://www.nutrition-foundation.it/upload/FrontEnd/doc_c92e2486-5e90-4118-a716-6df69b34a649.axd


(4) See reg. EC 1924/06, reg. EU 432/12 et seq.

(5) See dir. 1979/112/EC et seq. Most recently dir. 2000/13/EC, repealed by reg. EU 1169/11

(6) See reg. EC 1924/06, Article 10.3

(7) See reg. EU 1169/11, Article 22



(8) About the name of the food, see




https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/denominazione-dell-alimento




e




https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/archivio-notizie/domande-e-risposte/denominazione-dell-alimento_1


. On the possible implications of criminal liability, see https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/approfondimenti_1/frode-in-commercio-ed-etichette-alimentari-i-casi-atipici

(9) Pursuant to reg. EC 1924/06, Annex, ‘A claim that no sugars have been added to the food and any other claims likely to have the same meaning for the consumer are allowed only if the product does not contain added mono- or disaccharides or any other food used for its sweetening properties. If the food naturally contains sugars, the following statement must appear on the label, “CONTAINS NATURALLY SUGARS.”

(10) The list of allergenic ingredients in Annex II to reg. EU 1169/11, moreover, does not refer to any fruit (beyond the seeds contained in shells and kernels)

(11) Violation reg. EU 1169/11, Article 7.1.c

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.