BELFRIT Supplement Industry

Why the BELFRIT Project Is a Step Forward for the European Food Supplements Industry

You’ve probably heard of the Bendy Banana Law before: it’s an EU regulation that bans bananas that have a curvature beyond a certain standard. EU detractors have often used it as an example of how intrusive the European Commission can be in the lives of its member citizens.

Although this claim has been exaggerated (there is no ban for overly bendy bananas), there is indeed a regulation that sets specific quality standards for green bananas (colour, measurements, etc.) and restricts circulation of those with an “abnormal curvature.” The Bendy Banana Law is intended to replace national classification and grading systems by a common set of rules, resulting in a complex law for what you would think is a straightforward fruit!

Certain botanicals can be cures or poisons, too, which makes classification and application beyond colour, curvature or measurement more controversial. The law should protect consumers from ingesting harmful biotoxins – stating the obvious! – so how can we make clear rules for operators that want to inform consumers of the benefits that popular botanicals such as Aloe veraGinko biloba or Panax ginseng may have?

The clarity and vagueness of the EU law on food supplements

Foods are categorised by the role they play in our diets. Some countries classify foods with medicinal properties as food supplements, whereas others consider them medicines. According to Directive 2002/46/EC, the EU states that food supplements are “concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect”, whose purpose is to “supplement the normal diet.” Read more

Background to labelling sports foods

Background to labelling of sports foods

Back in 2014, an ad campaign by Lucozade was very eloquently entitled “Lucozade Sport vs Water.” In the video, two groups of athletes, one drinking water and one drinking Lucozade, are doing an endurance running test on a treadmill. Eventually, the “water only” athletes give up one by one, exhausted, while the Lucozade group keeps going strong. The reason is, quite simply, that Lucozade “hydrates and fuels you better than water.”

As it turned out, the Advertising Standard Authority had a lot of issues with that slogan. Although it was based on the authorised claim that “carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions enhance the absorption of water during physical exercise,” a dispute ensued between GlaxoSmithKline (the then owner of the brand) and ASA, around whether or not the wording in the ad departed too much from the authorised claim. The ASA eventually ruled that it did, and the ad was pulled off the air.

The details of the exchange between the two parties are quite technical, but they clearly illustrate one thing: in sports nutrition, claims are a big deal. Wherever there’s food marketing there are claims, and while that holds true for all types of food, it’s even more true for sports foods, considering the size of the market. According to a report from the European Commission, the EU retail market for the three categories of sports supplements, protein products, performance boosting products and sports drinks, grew by 11.2% between 2009 and 2014, reaching a total value of €3.07 billion in 2014. Read more