Little salt outlawed

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Labels recur where they boast ‘low salt,’ a good clue to choosing healthy foods. Unfortunately, however, this is often misleading, outlawed news. A resounding example to follow.

Low salt, anchovy fillets under scrutiny

At a reduced rate of halls, reads the label of the ‘anchovy fillets in extra virgin olive oil from the Cantabrian Sea‘, produced in Spain(Yurrita and Hijos S.A.).

The salt content of the product, however-according to the nutrition statement-is 9 grams per 100 (!). This is thirty times the amount required for the ‘low salt’ claim (which is 0.3 g per 100 g).

Nutrition claims related to salt and sodium, the rules to follow

The ‘
Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation’
, NHC, defines in the Annex the conditions of use of any nutrition claims referring to food products. (1)

For ‘
nutritional claim
is defined as ‘any claim that states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties, due :

(a) to the energy (caloric value) it contributes, contributes at a reduced or increased rate, or does not contribute, and/or

(b) to the nutrients or other substances it contains, contains in reduced or increased proportions, or does not contain‘. (2)


I
claims
nutritional claims related to salt and sodium established in the exhaustive list above are as follows.

LOW SODIUM/SALT CONTENT

A claim that a food is low in sodium/salt, and any other claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 0.12 g of sodium, or an equivalent value of salt, per 100 g or 100 ml. (3)

VERY LOW SODIUM/SALT CONTENT

A claim that a food is very low in sodium/salt, and any other claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 0.04 g of sodium, or an equivalent value of salt, per 100 g or 100 ml.

SODIUM-FREE or SALT-FREE

A claim that a food is sodium-free or salt-free, and any other claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no more than 0.005 g of sodium, or an equivalent value of salt, per 100 g.

WITHOUT SODIUM/ADDED SALT

A claim that no sodium/salt has been added to the food, and any other claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product contains no added sodium/salt or any other ingredient containing added sodium/salt and the sodium content of the product does not exceed 0.12 g, or the equivalent value of salt, per 100 g or 100 ml.

Nutritional claims ‘at a reduced rate of…’, the standards to be applied

The NHC regulation, reg. EC 1924/06, also sets out in the Annex the conditions for the use of so-called comparative claims. (5)

The general rule to be applied to any boast of reduction–of energy value (understood as the complex of macronutrients), nutrients and salt or sodium–is defined in the following terms.

AT A REDUCED RATE OF [NOME DELLA SOSTANZA NUTRITIVA]

A claim that the content of one or more nutrients has been reduced and any other claim that may have the same meaning for the consumer are permitted only if the reduction in content is at least 30 percent compared to a similar product, except for micronutrients, for which a 10 percent difference in the reference values in Directive 90/496/EEC is acceptable, and sodium or salt equivalent value, for which a 25 percent difference is acceptable.

The claim nutritional must be reported, according to the guidelines of the Competition Authority, AGCM, c.d. Antitrust, to a definite term of comparison. Which coincides with theaverage of the best-selling products in Italy and still on the market, within the same commodity category. (6)

Conclusions

For once at least, it would be nice to read news of a sanction-actually two, and more-from the authorities in charge of official public control. All the more so since the d.lgs. 27/17 – which introduced a special penalty regime, for violations of reg. EC 1924/06 – has been in force for some time now.

From 3 to 12 thousand euros, is the amount of the penalty for the use of nutritional claims not stipulated in the Annex to the NHC Regulation, or outside the conditions of use stipulated therein. With suspension of operating permit in case of specific reiteration. (7)




The distributor is in turn responsible




, for having supplied ‘




Food whose non-compliance it knows or presumes’


To the applicable standards. (8)

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) V. reg. EC 1924/06

as amended, at




https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?qid=1537043278251&uri=CELEX%3A02006R1924-20141213


(2) See EC Regulation 1924/06, Article 2.2.4

(3) ‘For waters other than natural mineral waters falling within the scope of Directive 80/777/EEC, this value shall not exceed 2 mg of sodium per 100 ml‘ (EC Reg. 1924/06, Annex)

(4) ‘This indication is not used for natural mineral waters or other waters.’ Idem c.s.

(5) See reg. EC 1924/06, Article 9 and Annex

(6) Therefore, the comparison must be made between food products that share consumption occasion, ingredients and production process. According to the provisions of the special Federalimentare Guidelines, which the author co-authored, at the time approved by the Ministry of Health. See also the paper ‘Guidance on the implementation of Regulation No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. Conclusions of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

‘, section II.2.1, at




https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/labelling_nutrition_claim_reg-2006-124_guidance_en.pdf


(7) See d. lgs. 27/2017, articles 8, 9, 11

(8) See reg. EU 1169/11, Article 8.3