15 January 2015

SNE Press Release - Slimming foods: SNE welcomes the updated EFSA nutrition advice on Slimming foods and calls for appropriate legislative solution

Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE), representing the interests of the specialised nutrition industry across Europe, welcomes the long-awaited opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the essential composition of total diet replacements for weight control. This opinion will help to update the current EU slimming foods legislation which was adopted nearly 20 years ago (Directive 96/8/EC), and will ensure a continued high level of protection for consumers under calorie-restricted diets.

SNE supports the future introduction of new legislation to more effectively tackle the societal challenge of obesity and provide consumers with the appropriate products that do match their needs. Obesity in the EU has reached epidemic proportions and dieting, combined with physical activity, is a key factor to fight obesity. It is therefore essential for consumers to have access to foods specially formulated for safe and efficient weight loss and weight maintenance.

On the EFSA opinion, President Roger Clarke says “We urge European decision makers to now translate this updated scientific evidence into legislation in an appropriate way which will meet the current needs and expectations of both consumers and healthcare practitioners.”

SNE has particular concerns about the EFSA’s proposal to abandon the current threshold between very low calorie diet (VLCD) and low calorie diet (LCD) products, which could confuse consumers and impact their ability to meet their specific nutritional requirements. Dissolving the threshold also risks negatively impacting the competitiveness of the European specialised nutrition industry, as regions outside the EU conform to a different standard. It is essential that the broader international perspective will be included in regulatory considerations in order to protect the competitiveness of European industry on the global stage.

Following the adoption of new specialised nutrition rules last year (Foods for Specific Groups (FSG) Regulation 609/2013), a distinction has been made between VLCD/LCD and part of/ total meal replacements. While total daily replacement products (VLCD & LCD) will be clearly regulated under the new FSG Regulation, meal replacements and part of meal replacements will fall under general food law once the new FSG rules will become applicable in 2016. In light of this new opinion from EFSA, SNE calls for legislative consistency for all categories of slimming foods, in order to ensure consistency for consumers who depend on these products as a safe and efficient way to lose and maintain weight after weight loss.

SNE is still in the process of carefully examining the EFSA’s opinion, and looks forward to forthcoming discussions on the regulatory options for the various categories of slimming foods. The new EU rules must safeguard innovation and competitiveness in Europe, while ensuring consistency and clarity for the consumers who depend on these products.


Notes to editors:

·         Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE) is the trade association representing the interests of the specialised nutrition industry across the European Union. SNE members are the national associations of 16 Member States and their members are the companies producing foods for particular nutritional needs, known at EU level as 'foods for specific groups'.

·         SNE members provide tailor made dietary solutions for populations with very specific nutritional needs including infants and young children, individuals under medical supervision, sportsmen, overweight and obese consumers, and those suffering from coeliac disease.

·         There are a range of slimming foods that are used for different purposes:

o    Very Low Calorie Diets: diets based on specific slimming foods exclusively, ensuring a fast change in a restrictive diet (400 to 800 calories/day). The proposed program must be strictly respected. Use of VLCD products with appropriate medical monitoring have been shown to be well tolerated and associated with minimal side effects (Anderson, J. 2004).

o    Low Calorie Diets: diets based on specific slimming foods exclusively, for an 800-1200 calorie diet. Advice of a healthcare professional is recommended should these products be used for more than three weeks.

o    Meal Replacements: 200-400 calorie products, formulated to replace one or two meals /day and to be used as part of an energy restricted diet, other foodstuffs being a necessary part of the diet.

o    Part of Meal Replacements / snacks: to replace one dish of a multiple course meal, or one snack, contributing to reach an optimal protein daily intake in the context of an overall energy restricted diet, or as a support for the stabilization of the weight loss. Often associated with meal replacements in weight loss programs.