Food labelling e-learning course
Definition and general requirements

Definition and general requirements

Baby food dessert label

PARNUTS is the term for foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses. These have a special composition or manufacturing process that distinguishes them from foodstuffs for normal consumption, are suitable for their claimed nutritional purposes, and are marketed to indicate such suitability. Clear examples are baby foods, infant formulae and food for special medical purposes.

Such foods must fulfil the particular nutritional requirements of one of the following groups:

  • Those whose digestive processes or metabolism are disrupted.
  • Those who are in a special physiological condition and as a consequence would benefit from controlled consumption of certain substances in foods.
  • Infants or young children in good health.

The products covered by the first two groups may be characterised as 'dietetic' or 'dietary'. While the passing on of useful information to those with qualifications in healthcare or nutrition is always permitted, the labelling, presentation and advertising of PARNUTS foods must not claim or imply that they can prevent, treat or cure human disease.

Otherwise, the general labelling rules apply to PARNUTS foods, with the following additional rules:

  • The product name must be accompanied by an indication of the product's special nutritional characteristics (with the indication being outside the general nutrition and health claims controls), but for food for infants and young children a reference to the product's purpose must be made instead (e.g. a statement of the age from which the product is suitable).
  • Where the food is not subject to specific PARNUTS rules, an indication of what gives it its special characteristics, and some nutritional data outside the general nutrition labelling rules.
  • Where the food is subject to specific PARNUTS rules, any labelling requirements in those rules must be followed notwithstanding general labelling rules.

Regarding nutrition and health claims, where the PARNUTS legislation has provisions on these, they take precedence over the general nutrition and health claim controls. For instance, the specific PARNUTS controls on nutrition and health claims made on infant formulae constitute the only claims that may be made.

Mandatory PARNUTS labelling to describe the particular nutritional characteristics or the purpose of PARNUTS foods (see first bullet point above) is also outside the control of the general nutrition and health claims controls.

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