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Health claims

Blueberries Lots of the foods we buy have statements on the label about their beneficial effects on the body such as, 'helps maintain a healthy heart', or 'helps aid digestion'. These are examples of health claims.

Previously, the rules on claims were very general, making it difficult for people to know what certain terms meant. Now there are specific rules to help protect consumers from misleading claims, which means that any claims made about the nutritional and health benefits of a food will only be allowed if they are based on science.

Although these new rules came into effect on 1 July 2007, the food industry has been given the time it needs to change its processes and comply with the new rules, so not all the changes can be seen in the shops just yet. In future only claims that have been approved will be able to be used on food.

General claims about benefits to overall good health, such as 'healthy' or 'good for you', will be only allowed to be used if accompanied by an appropriate and approved claim. This means that more general claims must be backed up by an explanation as to why the food is 'healthy' or what makes it a 'superfood'.

Labels are not allowed to claim that food can treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition. These sorts of claims can only be made for licensed medicines.