article | 15 Mar 2021

Nutrition and health claims in trademarks and product names – the transitional rule expires

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Do your trademarks, product names or other similar labels contain nutrition or health claims? In that case, it is important to review and, if necessary, rectify this as soon as possible!

At present, due to transitional rules, trademarks or product names that may indicate certain nutrition or health claims may still be used despite being in violation of the rules in force in the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006). However, by 20 January 2022, this use must be reviewed and possibly discontinued. It is therefore important to review whether any such trademarks or product names are used in your business.

A nutrition claim is a claim suggesting that a certain food has special beneficial nutritional properties, for example due to nutrient content or calorific value. A nutrition claim thus informs about the content of a food and may only be used if it is a nutrition claim approved by the European Commission. Statements that can be assumed to have the same meaning for the consumer as a nutrition claim approved by the European Commission are also permitted. These can be both claims that particularly highlight that a food contains a certain nutrient or contains particularly small amounts of a certain nutrient.

A health claim is a claim suggesting that there is a connection between a food and health. A health claim thus informs about effects on health. Here, too, the European Commission must have approved the health claim in question in order for its use to be allowed.

Many products have trademarks or labels/names indicating that the food has an effect on health. Such names may only be used if an approved nutrition or health claim is also made in the label. The rules regarding the use of nutrition and health claims must be followed even when using a trademark or product name that in itself indicates an effect on health or signals a particular nutritional content. However, exceptions still exist for products placed on the market before 1 January 2005. For example, in the naming of these products, it has been possible to indicate a certain health effect without following up with an approved health claim.

However, the transitional rules expire on 20 January 2022, which means that all products on the EU market must comply with the rules on nutrition and health claims when using a trademark or brand name, regardless of when they were launched. Thus, it is important that you as a food company review whether any such names are used in your business. If this is the case, these names must be replaced or it must be ensured that they are clearly followed by an approved nutrition and/or health claim. This must happen before January 20, 2022.

Examples from the National Food Administration’s website of possible trademarks, product names or corresponding branding linked to health are Life, Active, Heart, Vital and Power.

Such names (or parts of names) will be considered health-related and must be accompanied by an approved health claim in accordance with Article 1 (3) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. The same applies to trademarks, product names or corresponding branding linked to nutritional content.

If you do not act, you initially risk injunctions from the supervisory authority but also i.a. bans linked to penalties and, if the violation is seen as particularly serious, a fine.

Get back to us if you want us to help you with reviews and appropriate measures due to the above!

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