by Marion Nestle
Jun 2 2008

Wonderful Copenhagen!

I’m in Copenhagen this week at the Nordic Nutrition meetings and did my usual tourist thing. I went to supermarkets to check out the products and the health claims. What a disappointment. Denmark doesn’t allow health claims, or at least not many. In Denmark, food is just food. I couldn’t find a mention of vitamins (the Danes don’t permit vitamin or mineral fortification except for iodine in salt), omega-3’s, antioxidants, or cholesterol-lowering, and the breakfast cereal aisle was scanty and only a few packages had cartoons.  But this peaceful situation will not last much longer. The E.U. rules are coming and with them will come health claims and all the marketing hype and confusion that inevitably accompany them. Too bad.

  • I am pleased to hear that you are in Denmark – and it seems you got here in »the eleventh hour«!

    Just as you I am worried about the future marketing hype, and I have taken the liberty to point one of the Danish newspapers with a food and health supplement to your blog.

    It would be refreshing to hear a critical voice, in the Danish debate, especially from a person with insight in the mechanics of food politics.

  • Sheila

    I must admit my ignorance on this matter…The current situation seems so sensible, why does Denmark have to change and let the EU regulate the “health” claims it allows on processed foods?

  • @Sheila: Danish regulation in the fortification and health claim area has until now been guided by a principle of caution. Thus, fortification of foods with vitamins and minerals has been banned to protect children and “heavy users”.

    That changes with the implementation of “EU Regulation 1924/2006”. The keyword is harmonization. In order to provide all companies in the EU’s 27 member states, trade is regulated, and common standards established about almost everything – including the curvature of cucumbers (yes!).

    In January this year, Denmark provided the EU with a “positive list”, containing 90 health claims, which will be approved by the European Commission (involving EFSA, The European Food Safety Agency).

    The final list, based on submissions from all 27 member states will be published on January 31., 2010. Of course the food industry is excited. Health claims will “provide consumers with better knowledge about which foods are healthy”, they say. Others, including me, are not so excited.

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