Food Claims Centre Venlo (FCCV)

The Food Claims Centre Venlo researches the interplay of science and law. By bringing together the food industry, policymakers and researchers from a wide variety of expertise areas, we bridge the gap between nutritional science and food law.

Our two primary functions are helping entrepreneurs to scientifically substantiate the healthiness and safety of foods (for example for claims) and researching food policy developments. These two functions are closely intertwined, and there is intensive cooperation which often leads to interdisciplinary projects.

Helping entrepreneurs: new foods & claims

In addition to being a research centre, the Food Claims Centre Venlo serves as an information source and a knowledge centre for entrepreneurs—a place that large companies and SMEs can turn to with their questions about the safety of new food products such as:

  • When can you introduce your new product on the market?
  • How do you make sure your product is safe for consumers?
  • When you want to import a food product from outside Europe, how do you make sure it meets the EU safety regulations?

We also answer questions about food claims, looking at issues such as:

  • How do you test an idea for a food claim?
  • When does a claim meet the standards of the European authority?
  • What is involved when it comes to legal matters?
  • What about safety and liability?

We will work with you and your company to analyse these and many other questions. Our initial consult is always free of charge.

What claims can and can’t you make?

If you want to know what claims you can make on the packaging of your food or drink product, the Food Claims Centre Venlo can help:

  • How can you use a claim to position your food product on the market?
  • When can you call your product ‘light’ or ‘healthy’?
  • Are there any similar products on the market which already use claims that are backed by scientific evidence?

The Food Claims Centre Venlo will find that out for you.

  We've set up something unique with the Food Claims Centre Venlo. As far as I know, no one else is currently conducting scientific research into developments in the food world in relation to food legislation.  

- Dr Alie de Boer, head of the Food Claims Centre Venlo

Scientific substantiation

At the Food Claims Centre Venlo, we advise entrepreneurs on the legal issues related to food safety and health, including:

  • the safety of new food products
  • product labelling requirements
  • effective marketing strategies

We also help to scientifically substantiate the safety of new foods and food claims. When it comes to claims, only scientifically proven claims can be used on packaging and in advertising. The effect of each product must be proven and three criteria are essential:

  • what ingredient causes the claimed health effect
  • what the health effect is exactly
  • what the connection is between taking the product and the achieved effect

We analyse these three criteria, focusing on providing evidence regarding which ingredient causes a health effect. We therefore oversee the testing of the product, ensuring that the research is carried out according to the highest scientific standards. We also assist in analysing the results so they can be effectively presented to the European Food Safety Authority.

Overview of existing studies

Furthermore, we conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses for both existing and new claims. We compare all studies on the relevant ingredients with each other in order to generate a complete overview of the available knowledge about the ingredients. This helps us gain additional insights into the effect of an ingredient upon which a claim can be based.

Step by step through the paperwork

At the Food Claims Centre Venlo, we walk you step-by-step through the process of filing your food claim. We advise you on the wording of the claim and how to present the scientific evidence as well as assist in compiling the complete scientific dossier so that you have the best chance of your claim being approved. We also help with the process of introducing a new food to the market and making sure that it meets the regulatory safety standards.

Food law

Sorting out the bureaucracy

When you want to sell a food product or communicate about its effectiveness, you will have to deal with a variety of European regulations. It is not easy to introduce a new product or to make a claim about a product.

In the last ten years, for instance, the European Commission has approved only 300 of the 44,000 applications for food claims. And it is not because all of those other claims were unjustified or because the European regulations are becoming more strict.

It is also because entrepreneurs took the wrong course of action, made mistakes with their application or got lost in the paperwork.

Food policy research

Food is no longer only considered for survival, or to prevent hunger. Consumers are increasingly concerned with how it affects their health. But what information can and should we be providing to consumers about how a product affects their health? When should we be able to say that a food or ingredient promotes health? Or even that it can be used as a medicine?

The Food Claims Centre Venlo examines the legal concepts of food and medicine and studies the positive and negative consequences of products like supplements. We also assist the food industry with fulfilling the consumer’s demand for more transparency regarding nutrition and safety.

Because of the direct link with the advisory function of the Food Claims Centre Venlo, this line of research also focuses on providing information, particularly to entrepreneurs, regarding food products such as:

  • the wording of food and health claims
  • requirements and preferences regarding labelling
  • the effects of advertising messages

In this way, the policy research also fits in seamlessly with the questions that exist within the agro-food sector.

Alie de Boer - Food policy research