09 December 2015

SNE Press Release 9 December 2015 - Regulating Swimming foods in the EU: Ensuring consistency and appropriate transition of general food law for meal replacement

Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE), representing the interests of the specialised nutrition industry within Europe, welcomes the EFSA statement published on 13 November on the conditions of use for health claims related to meal replacements for weight control.

On the basis of the EFSA Opinion, SNE considers that no further changes to the compositional requirements than the micronutrient levels should be contemplated, and that the current conditions of use for the approved health claims related to the role of meal replacements for weight control shall be maintained in order to ensure a high level of protection for consumers wishing to safely lose or maintain weight loss.

In parallel, SNE calls for an appropriate transition period to allow sufficient time for companies to adapt their formulations and labelling in a way that will continue to meet the expectations of  consumers.

Overweight and obese consumers have used slimming foods safely for decades to support effective weight management. The complete and well balanced nutritional profile of slimming foods guarantees their safe use, which is not always easy to achieve with popular diets based on conventional food, in particular when calorie restriction is necessary. Even when used properly, some popular diets have been shown to produce significant side effects based on relevant deficiencies due to imbalanced macro- and micronutrient intake.

Meal replacement products, which are formulated to replace one or more meals in the day, are specifically formulated on the basis of solid scientific evidence, and are trusted by consumers as a safe and high quality solution for weight management when used correctly.

Once the new FSG rules become applicable (20 July 2016), meal replacements and partial meal replacements will fall under general EU food law. In this context, SNE calls on the European Commission and Member States to ensure that the adaptations made to the relevant general food legislation remain as close as possible to the existing requirements outlined in the Slimming Foods Directive (96/8/EC), and are consistent with the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (1169/2011).

The EFSA opinion has confirmed that the micronutrient level changes proposed will have no impact on safety and efficiency, but any modifications to the compositional requirements will have repercussions in terms of stability, taste and formulations. SNE member companies will need to invest heavily in research and development in order to ensure that a large and desired range of these products continue to suit consumer preferences.

Appropriate legislation will allow consumers to clearly distinguish between appropriate products, and those which are unsafe for use as part of a weight management programme. With a view to avoiding confusion for consumers and administrative burden for national authorities, the legal name of this category of foods should therefore be maintained.

SNE looks forward to legislative consistency for all categories of slimming foods, in order to provide consumers with safe and effective products to help them lose or maintain weight loss. SNE is pleased to continue it’s participation in the public policy dialogue to help tackle the societal challenges of the overweight and obese and to provide consumers with products to match their specific nutritional needs.


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   Partial 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 programmes.

·         In order to protect consumers and to guarantee a safe and efficient weight loss/ control, slimming products need to comply with the following specific EU rules:

o   Until 20 July 2016:Directive 96/8/EC [1] - This regulation covers all types of slimming foods.

o   As of 20 July 2016:  Regulation (EU) 609/2013 [2] - This regulation does not cover meal replacement and partial meal replacement, which will fall under general food law regulation.

o   Regulation (EU) 432/2012[3] - This regulation includes authorisation for health claims related to weight loss and weight maintenance for meal replacements with conditions of use specifying what these meal replacements areThis regulation will be reviewed to reflect the composition criteria and requirements for meal replacement.

·         Scientific evidence forms the basis for designing and manufacturing meal replacements. For this reason, the two following claims have been approved for meal replacements on the basis of Regulation(EU) No 432/2012:

o   Substituting one daily meal of an energy restricted diet with a meal replacement contributes to the maintenance of weight after weight loss”; and

o   “Substituting two daily meals of an energy restricted diet with meal replacements contributes to weight loss”.

[1] Directive 96/8/EC on foods intended for use in energy-restricted diets for weight reduction

[2] Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 on food intended for infants and young children, food for special medical purposes, and total diet replacement for weight control

[3] Commission regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health.