Beauty claims are not health claims

This statement is backed by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Dutch: ‘NVWA’). The NVWA has decided that several beauty claims do not fall under the scope of the Claims Regulation (Regulation EC no 1924/2006). This is a unique situation for Europe, because other Member States have not (yet) elaborated on this matter.

A ‘beauty claim’ states a positive effect on someone’s looks. Sometimes it might be hard to sort the beauty claims from the health claims. It is a thin line between the two. Claims on food and beverages can be beauty claims when they entirely focus on the looks. Examples are: ‘keeps the skin elastic’, ‘supports hair and nails’ or ‘natural skin rejuvenation’. Health claims, on the other hand, focus on a positive physiological effect. To clarify the difficult difference between beauty claims (looks) and health claims (physiological), the Dutch examination board on health claims (KOAG/KAG) collaborated with the NVWA and published a list with beauty claims (Dutch only). The list gives clear examples of the distinction between beauty claims and health claims and qualifies the given examples.

With the introduction of this list and the acknowledgement from the NVWA for beauty claims, more clarity has been established for beauty claims. However, this development might be difficult for distributors who deal in multiple European countries. This matter is still being discussed. France for example is of the opinion that beauty claims do fall under the scope of the Claims Regulation. Therefore, be aware when making beauty claims. The regime can differ depending on the country.

Christine Fontaine – associate health, beauty & food law

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