Legislation regarding total diet replacements for weight control updated

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Legislation sets specific rules for the labelling of total diet replacement products for weight control. From October 2022, all food business operators must file a notification to the Finnish Food Authority when placing new total diet replacement products on the market in Finland.

Total diet replacements for weight control means foods specially formulated for use in energy-restricted diets for weight reduction. They are intended for healthy adults who want to lose weight and, under the supervision of healthcare professionals, also for other users.

These products can be used to completely replace daily diet, which means that when used according to the instructions, they provide all the necessary daily nutrients. Total diet replacement products are normally used for a relatively short time, typically for eight weeks at most. When used under the supervision of healthcare professionals, the products can be used even longer.

Total diet replacement products for weight control are covered by the legislation regarding foods for specific groups (Regulation (EU) No 609/2013). In addition, the European Commission has published a delegated regulation which lays down more specific compositional and information requirements for total diet replacements for weight control (Regulation (EU) 2017/1798). The regulation has been applicable from 27 October 2022. After this date, the labelling of total diet replacements for weight control must comply with the regulation. In addition, in order to ensure efficient control, as of October a notification for any new products must be submitted to the authority.

The new regulation applies specifically to total diet replacements for weight control. However, the regulation is not applicable to meal replacements for weight control which are intended for replacing one or two meals per day. For meal replacement products, the general labelling requirements of the EU Food Information Regulation as well as the requirements of the EU Health Claim Regulation, among others, must be observed. If vitamins or minerals have been added to the meal replacement product, the operator must submit a written notification regarding the placing on the market of the fortified food to the Finnish Food Authority.

REGULATION PROVIDES THE COMPOSITIONAL AND INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS

The composition of total diet replacements for weight control must comply with the requirements set forth in EU Regulation 2017/1798. In addition, there are certain mandatory labelling requirements for these products. These include the statement on the importance of maintaining an adequate daily fluid intake as well as the statement that the product provides adequate daily amounts of all essential nutrients.

Furthermore, the statement on very low energy content (VLCD = very low calorie diet) can be used in total diet replacement for weight control products when the energy content of the product is below 3 360 kJ (800 kcal) per day), or, alternatively, the statement on low energy content (LCD = low calorie diet) when the energy content of the product is 3 360–5 040 kJ (800–1 200 kcal) per day).

No health claims or nutrition claims may be made on total diet replacement products for weight control. However, the nutrition claim ‘added fibre’ may be used, if the dietary fibre content of the product is at least 10 g. The marketing of the product should not make any reference to the rate or amount of weight reduction which may result from the use of the product.

NOTIFICATION OBLIGATION IN FORCE

  • Total diet replacement products for weight control placed on the market after 27 October 2022 are subject to the notification obligation.
  • In Finland, the food business operator must submit a written notification to the Finnish Food Authority of all products placed on the market.
  • This obligation does not apply to products placed on the market before 27 October 2022.
  • A model of the label to be used for the product must be provided with the notification.

This text was originally published in Kehittyvä Elintarvike (in Finnish) on 27 October 2022.

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