EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria


In July 2015, the EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria White Paper, first published end 2012, was updated for the first time in order to reflect recent developments and update a few outdated references. The update also takes stock of experience with implementing the nutrition criteria since January 2015, which highlighted some minor implementation issues. 
The changes introduced to the EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria White Paper are as follows:


  • The 2012 White Paper granted member companies in the savoury snacks sector (members of the European Snacks Association - ESA) which apply nutrition criteria a derogation from the applicable sodium threshold for potato chips and potato based snacks, incl. dough-based products, until 1 January 2016. Whereas the standard sodium threshold in the Nutrition Criteria is 900mg/100g, ESA member companies could benefit from a 970mg/100g until 1 January 2016. This derogation was removed six months before its expiration date thanks to the advancement of members’ salt reduction programmes.


  • The 2012 White Paper foresaw the potential to further reduce the sodium value of hard/semi hard cheese in 3 years’ time. Having reviewed the situation in early 2015, and following positive expert feedback, the EU Pledge Nutrition Working Group agreed to introduce an optional lower sodium threshold (800mg/100g instead of 900mg/100g) to incentivise further sodium reduction. To make this lower sodium threshold workable, the accompanying maximum saturated fat threshold is raised by 1g/100g, to 16g. If the lower sodium threshold is not used, the saturated fat threshold remains at 15g/100g.


  • Following implementation of the nutrition criteria in January 2015, it became apparent that a few products did not fall into a specific category because they did not meet the minimum content requirement under the relevant category/sub-category. The updated White Paper makes clear that in these cases, and if such a product does not fall under any another category/sub-category, then the product cannot be marketed to children.


  • It also became apparent that nutrition criteria for certain product types of no relevance to children had not been created. To clarify the status of these products and given that they are not marketed to or relevant for children, the updated White Paper makes clear that the following products categories are outside the scope of the EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria:

-    Bouillon/stock cubes
-    Herbs and spices
-    Coffee and tea (excluding coffee and tea-based drinks, which fall under the Beverages category).


  • Finally, it became apparent from the implementation of the common Nutrition Criteria that there is no common European benchmark for the purposes of quantifying fruit and vegetable content (e.g. conversion formulae for dried fruit and vegetables into fresh equivalents). The updated White Paper clarifies that applicable standards used at national level should apply in this regard.


The EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria White Paper is available here.