REFIT - Evaluation of the Regulation on nutrition and health claims

REFIT - Evaluation of the Regulation on nutrition and health claims

Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods governs the use of these claims in the labelling, presentation and advertising of foods. It aims at enabling consumers to make healthier choices by protecting them from misleading information and ensuring a level playing field for food businesses to operate within the single market.

Since its adoption in 2006, the implementation of the Regulation remains incomplete since nutrient profiles, that had to be set by January 2009, have not been established and due to the fact that health claims on plants and their preparations used in foods are not yet fully regulated. In addition, the situation with regard to the health claims on plants and their preparations has led to a broader reflection regarding the use of plants and their preparations used in foods.

The Commission's plan to carry out a REFIT evaluation of the EU legislation on nutrition and health claims was announced in its Better Regulation Communication of 19 May 2015.

Evaluations and Fitness Checks are tools that are used to implement the Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme (REFIT). REFIT is a rolling programme to keep the entire stock of EU legislation under review and ensure that it is 'fit for purpose'; that regulatory burdens are minimised and that all simplification options are identified and applied.

This REFIT evaluation aims at focusing on nutrient profiles and health claims on plants and their preparations added to foods. It also aims at considering the more general regulatory framework for the use of such substances in foods since it is closely related to the use of health claims.

The evaluation process is constituted of different steps and the following ones have already been performed:

1. The Roadmap

The Commission published a Roadmap, on 8 October 2015, on the REFIT Evaluation of the EU Nutrition and Health Claims legislation. This Roadmap is a first step in the evaluation process and outlines the purpose, content and scope of the evaluation. Moreover, it sets out the main evaluation criteria to be addressed in relation to this REFIT Evaluation:

  • Effectiveness (Have the objectives been met?)
  • Efficiency (What are the costs and benefits involved?)
  • Coherence (Does the policy complement other actions or are there contradictions?)
  • Relevance (Is EU action still relevant?)
  • EU added value (Can or could similar changes have been achieved at national level, or does EU action provide a clear added value?)

Stakeholders may submit their feedback on the roadmap via a dedicated webpage. Feedback received during the first four weeks after publication of the roadmap was considered in the design of the evaluation. The extent to which feedback received after that period can be taken into account has been determined by the progress made in the evaluation process.

Feedback received to date may be accessed here.

2. Terms of Reference

The Commission prepared the Terms of Reference for the external independent study that will be feeding into the REFIT evaluation. The Terms of Reference set out what the Commission services' have asked from the contractor (Agra CEAS Consulting, Food Chain Evaluation Consortium - FCEC; in association with Areté) to do under the framework contract.

3. Launching of the External Study

The kick-off meeting with the contractor was held on 27 May 2016 and marked the official launching of the external study.

3.1. Consultations and collection of evidence in the framework of the external study

An evaluation is defined as an evidence-based judgement of the extent to which an intervention has:

  • Been effective and efficient,
  • Been relevant given the needs and its objectives,
  • Been coherent both internally and with other EU policy interventions, and;
  • Achieved EU added-value.

Hence, the collection of evidence, data and information constitutes a crucial part of this REFIT Evaluation exercise. In this respect, the study methodology envisages the extensive consultation of all stakeholders directly or indirectly affected by these issues, including EU countries' competent authorities, business operators, consumers and other non-business interest groups. Stakeholder's views, practical experience and supporting evidence will ensure a higher quality and a more credible evaluation.

The consultation strategy for this REFIT evaluation includes a combination of consultation methods and tools. The main data collection tools include:

Online survey of EU-28 Member State Competent authorities - consultation ended on 28 February 2017

Online survey of EU stakeholders - consultation ended on 20 February 2017

SME survey (ongoing consultation to run up to 23 June 2017)

Open public consultation via the website 'Your Voice in Europe' (ongoing consultation to run up to 1 June 2017)

In-depth interviews (which will follow the online surveys)

Case studies (which will follow the online surveys)

3.2 Workshops with EU countries and the Advisory Group – 22 June 2016

In the context of this REFIT evaluation and the external study to be conducted, two workshops were held on 22 June 2016. One was held with the EU country Competent Authorities (in the context of a Working Group of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed - section Nutrition and Health Claims) and a second one was held with stakeholders (in the context of a Working Group of the Advisory Group on Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health).

The contractor (Agra CEAS Consulting, Food Chain Evaluation Consortium - FCEC; in association with Areté) presented the study objectives and methodology of the external study and explained that the workshops aimed at launching the consultation process. The presentation of the study was followed by discussion and feedback was provided by workshop participants, on the basis of the questions contained in the FCEC working document.

Additional information and all relevant documentation can be accessed via the "Advisory Group - Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health" webpage.

For more information on the evaluation, please consult: