‘Health Claim’ Definition to Be Interpreted Widely, EU Court Rules

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In its first judgment on Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, the Court of Justice of the EU adopted a broad interpretation of the definition of “health claim” by ruling that claims for merely temporary or fleeting effects of a food on human health, such as in the claim "easily digestible", are indeed health claims (Case C-544/10 Deutsches Weintor).

A health claim is defined as any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between food and health. The Court stressed that since this definition does not provide information as to whether that relationship must be direct or indirect, or as to its intensity or duration, the term relationship “must be understood in a broad sense”.

Regulation 1924/2004 prohibits beverages containing more than 1.2% by volume of alcohol from carrying health claims. A German wine was described on its label as "easily digestible" accompanied by a reference to reduced acidity. The Court was asked in essence whether that amounted to a health claim.

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