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Health and Nutrition in Current EU Food Law: A Systematic Review

Maria El Gemayel, Hanna Schebesta


This research explores the capacity in which the EU's food legal framework covers nutrition and health aspects. Recent policy actions in the European Union (EU) focus on nutrition-related health, given the rising trend of unhealthy dietary patterns in the European region. However, setting relevant health and nutrition policy objectives is complex when the legislative framework for these objectives is not clearly defined. To explore this topic, we systematically reviewed EU food law and extracted all indicators for health and nutrition. We then studied the indicators' relationships to one another and their role in legislation. Key findings suggest selective frameworks for health and nutrition. Health is mainly addressed through food safety, and nutrition is addressed though an objective approach to information to consumers and compositional requirements. Despite these selective frameworks, we found that food law has the potential to define and develop a nutrition and health nexus that targets both ends of the food chain: production and consumption. This starts with the alignment of health and nutrition objectives in legislation and policy. Keywords: European Union, food law, health, nutrition, legislation, policy

Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS), Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.

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