Food for Special Medical Purposes

Managing disease with effective medical nutrition in patients from infancy to old age.

Medical nutrition products, also known as Foods for Special Medical Purposes (FSMPs), are used in all healthcare settings across Europe. They are used by those with chronic medical conditions, or people suffering or recovering from serious illness, and represent a vital element of patient care.

In Europe, SNE is working in close collaboration with MNI (Medical Nutrition International Industry) on FSMPs.
For additional information about FSMPs, please see our joint educational package.


Designed to meet the nutritional or dietary needs arising from a wide range of medical conditions that affect patients of all ages from infancy to old age.

For the dietary management of patients who are suffering from a disease, disorder or medical condition which either temporarily or permanently affects their ability to achieve a suitable nutritional intake using normal foods.

Developed based on scientific and clinical insights, often in close collaboration with scientists and healthcare Professionals. They are supported by sound medical and scientific data which may include national, international or professional guidelines.

Used on the recommendation of, and under the supervision of a healthcare professional. This necessary and continued healthcare professional supervision clearly distinguishes FSMPs from other types of food. They are consumed across all healthcare settings – in hospitals, care homes, clinics and in private homes.

FSMPs can help



Around 40% of adult hospital patients in the EU are malnourished; a burden which cost estimates put at 120 billion EUR in the EU and 170 billion EUR in Europe. FSMPs play a vital role in helping to manage disease-related malnutrition in patients in a range of healthcare settings and can help to reduce hospital stays.


300.000 Children

Medical nutrition products are also used in infants and children who have special nutritional requirements resulting from a disease or medical condition. Around 300,000 children in the EU will require FSMPs in these early stages of life when supporting nutritional intake is critical to growth and development.


1 out of 3

More than 1 in 3 patients with cancer are malnourished.


More than 50%

More than 50% of patients in hospital do not eat the full meal they are given and 30% of nursing home residents eat less than half their lunch, meaning that patients often fail to meet their nutritional needs.

How FSMPs are used

FSMPs either supplement or replace the diet entirely to provide patients with the essential nutrients that they need to survive and recover.

They are consumed across all healthcare settings – in hospitals, care homes, clinics and in private homes – under the supervision of healthcare professionals.

These products play a key role in battling malnutrition when patients are ill for extended periods of time, for example those recovering from stroke or with severe food allergies. Until these patients can resume a normal diet, it is essential that they receive appropriate balanced nutrition.

FSMPs are also made specifically for low birth-weight infants and pre-term infants who often have special nutritional requirements which cannot be met by breast milk or standard infant formula alone.

Our Products

We develop and produce a range of medical nutrition products that help patients in the dietary management of a wide variety of medical conditions, for example food allergies, weight loss during cancer treatment, stroke and neurological disorders.

Some examples of different types of FSMPs


Enteral tube feeds – adult & paediatric:

  • Tube feeding is delivery of a feed into the gastrointestinal tract, via a feeding tube. It may be required due to loss of swallow; partial functioning of the gut; high nutritional requirements e.g. stroke, short bowel syndrome, cancer, Cystic Fibrosis.
  • Patients can receive tube feeding for a short time e.g. via a nasogastric tube (NG) tube or for life in some conditions e.g. via a Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). Feeding regimens also vary depending on patient’s need, and this influences which feeds, formats and delivery systems are used – sterile, with compatible packs to fit feeding sets.

Oral nutritional supplements (ONS) - adult & paediatric:

  • Disease-related malnutrition (DRM) is caused by increased nutritional requirements, increased nutritional losses or decreased nutritional intake, related to a disease, disorder or medical condition.
  • Often prevalent in conditions such as cancer, stroke, cystic fibrosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), etc.
  • ONS have functional benefits for patients: increased muscle strength, activity levels, weight etc.; decreased falls, depression and fatigue which improve patient quality of life and significantly reduce hospital admissions/re-admission and length of stay – they can be used in a wide variety or medical conditions.
  • Variety including formats, flavours is essential for good compliance – can also be used as bolus tube feeds.

Disease specific oral nutritional supplements (ONS) – adult & paediatric :

  • Some ONS are designed specifically for use in certain conditions, with adapted formulations to meet requirements or to provide additional benefits. Examples include: reduced electrolytes for patients with renal disease; increased n-3 fatty acids and antioxidants for patients with cancer; pre-thickened for patients with dysphagia; adapted micronutrient profile patients with cystic fibrosis.

Specialised Infant FSMP are essential for normal growth and development in infants with medical conditions, examples of conditions are as follows:

  • Faltering growth: high energy feeds to promote catch up growth; neurodisability, cardiac disease
  • Cow’s milk allergy and multiple food protein allergies;
  • Malabsorption/maldigestion: peptide or amino acid based feeds to allow for easier absorption; e.g. gastrointestinal disease, cystic fibrosis;
  • Metabolic conditions: feeds excluding problematic nutrient e.g. amino acids
  • Rare conditions: epilepsy; chlylothorax/cardiac conditions; galactosaemia

Metabolic and rare conditions:

  • Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a disorder of amino acid metabolism. Use of medical nutrition and compliance to regimen is essential for life in many of these conditions. Examples include: Protein substitutes excluding the “toxic” amino acid; specially formulated low protein foods.

Other – thickeners, modules, etc.

  • Food and fluid thickeners are used to manage dysphagia, allowing patients to be able to consume normal food and drinks, helping to enable them to meet nutrient and fluid requirements. Dysphagia can result from many conditions including stroke, cancer, motor neurone disease (MND), etc.
  • Modules are FSMP that contain one or just a few nutrients e.g. energy, protein etc. These are essential for bespoke regimens for patients and are an important part of the dietetic toolkit for patient-centric care.

Commitment to the highest quality and safety standards

FSMPs are developed based on scientific and clinical insights, often in close collaboration with scientists and healthcare professionals.

FSMPs are supported by sound medical and scientific data which may include national, international or professional guidelines.