TDMR Europe perfectly equipped to tackle regulatory challenges for formula diet foods
Posted On: 29th June 2022
As obesity rates in Europe continue to increase, decision makers are becoming aware of the need for a more harmonised nutrition policy and are looking at how to support Europeans to follow a healthy diet. In this context, the European Commission is planning to introduce a series of policy initiatives such as mandatory, harmonised front of pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) and the setting of nutrient profiles that could affect the labelling of formula diet foods.
The Commission’s proposal on FOPNL and nutrient profiles aims to restrict the promotion of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS). Yet, a blanket application of the FOPNL and nutrient profiles across all food products would fail to recognise the specific use of specialist products, such as total diet replacements (TDRs) and meal replacements (MRPs) and would unfairly penalise businesses in the sector. Because nutrient profiles and interpretative FOPNL schemes, such as Nutri-score, often measure a substance in a product as a percentage rather than considering absolute levels, the sugar content in some MRPs and TDRs could be high in percentage terms and the products might score negatively under these schemes. However, the absolute amount of sugar in these products in comparison to their caloric content (between 200 and 250 kcal for MRPs per serving and 600 to 1200 kcal for TDRs per day) is in fact low. In this context, it is more important than ever for the slimming foods industry to secure appropriate and proportionate legislation. TDMR Europe is leading the sector’s efforts to tackle upcoming regulatory challenges, by working closely with political stakeholders on new policies and legislations that affect the industry.
TDMR Europe’s work to date includes the regulation of TDRs through the Regulation on Foods for Specific Groups (609/2013/EU). As a result of its targeted public affairs strategy, TDMR Europe avoided TDRs from being classified as medical foods, avoiding a stricter regulatory framework for these products. Moreover, TDMR Europe has engaged with the Commission and its agencies extensively on the specific compositional criteria for TDRs to achieve an appropriate regulatory environment for these products. With regards to MRPs, following TDMR Europe’s work, these products are regulated under general food law. TDMR Europe is also working to ensure that all additives currently authorised in MRPs are still in place, despite changes in their classification under the Additives Regulation.
To be able to provide the industry’s perspective in the development of regulations and policies affecting TDRs and MRPs, it is crucial to first increase understanding of these products among policymakers who are unfortunately often not aware of their potential in tackling skyrocketing obesity rates across Europe. TDMR Europe works to increase this awareness. For example, TDMR Europe organised a European parliamentary event “Helping the Consumer Help Themselves: Safely Tackling Obesity and Diabetes Today and Tomorrow”, which was attended by MEPs, the Commission and officials from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). TDMR Europe also organises impactful educational seminars on the latest scientific evidence on TDRs and MRPs, bringing together industry stakeholders, academics, policymakers and others. TDMR Europe’s events aim to review and raise awareness of the increasing evidence on the efficacy and potential of TDRs and MRPs to change the face of obesity and related diseases in Europe.
As decision makers are introducing new legislations on food labelling to address the increasing prevalence of obesity in Europe, the coming months and years will be decisive and possibly transformative for the slimming foods industry. In this context, it is crucial for businesses in the sector to make sure they have a say on regulatory changes that affect them and to increase awareness among policymakers of the potential of their products in tackling obesity.