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What are labeling claims?

Speaking of labeling claims in the food labeling standard, many people may think of Nutrient Function Claims ("Rich in XXX", "Contain nutrients", etc.), but in a broad sense, the purpose is to prevent misleading representations of various kinds claims. Therefore, we would like to summarize them in this mini-column.

The chart below is a summary of various types of labeling claims.

various types of labeling claims

The difference between the various claims stated above (upper and lower part) is their purpose. The upper part cases are when claims about safety and health are made, and the lower part cases are when claims about the product quality are made. The difference between the claims on the left and the right lies in their content. The left part is when using or strengthening something, and the right part is when not using or decreasing something.

When using such claims, source materials (evidence) are needed. For labeling claims on ingredient categories, "materials (evidence)" corresponds to documentation like ingredient specifications or manufacturer data reports. For labeling claims on the amount of nutrients, "materials (evidence)" corresponds to documentation such as the analysis results of nutrients, etc..

Regarding food products, it is not easy to always use the same, consistent, specification format for all ingredients. Therefore, it is important to perform quality assurances processes (to confirm the consistency between the labeled information and the actual facts) by updating ingredient specifications or analysis results every year.

If the materials you hold as evidence are not appropriate for their relative claims, there is a risk that it can lead to misleading representation. On that regard, it can be considered that labeling claims and misleading representation cannot be separated from each other. To use a claim, proper evidence for it is needed.

We hope this will be a chance to review if the documentation you have stored is an adequate evidence for the claims labeled on your products.

December 2018