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Health claims and symbols: What role is there for health-related information to guide consumer behaviour?

SOPHIE HIEKE1, KLAUS G GRUNERT2, IGOR PRAVST3

1. Head of Consumer Insights and Principal Coordinator CLYMBOL European Food Information Council, Brussels, Belgium

2. Director of the MAPP Centre at Aarhus University, Professor for Marketing & Consumer Behaviour and the Scientific Advisor to CLYMBOL Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

3. Member of the Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech Scientific Advisory Board and WP leader in CLYMBOL Nutrition Institute, and University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Abstract

In 2006, the pan-European Regulation on nutrition and health claims (EC) No. 1924/2006 (NHCR) was published and went into effect in 2007 (1). With the exception of nutrient profiles (2) and health claims on botanicals (3), the transition period has been over long ago and all foods in the food supply should by now be compliant with the Regulation. Now, 10 years later, it is time to take stock and, using newest empirical findings, evaluate the success of this Regulation so far as well as suggest ways forward.


In 2006, the pan-European Regulation on nutrition and health claims  (EC) No. 1924/2006 (NHCR) was published and went into effect in 2007 (1). With the exception of nutrient profiles (2) and health claims on botanicals (3), the transition period has been over long ago and all foods in the food supply should by now be compliant with the Regulation. Now, 10 years later, it is time to take stock and, using newest empirical findings, evaluate the success of this Regulation so far as well as suggest ways forward.

We know that 7-14% of prepacked-foods in the EU are labelled with health claims and symbols (4), but are such claims understood by consumers, do they impact purchase and consumption decisions, and ultimately – do they support healthy choices? These questions have been inv