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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Foods for special purposes - audit by the Trade Inspection Authority

< previous | next > 30.05.2018

Foods for special purposes - audit by the Trade Inspection Authority
  • Trade Inspection Authority investigated foods for young children, athletes and people on a diet.
  • Inspectors had reservations about only 9.4 percent of investigated products.
  • The irregularities concerned mainly labelling.

In the third quarter of 2017, the Trade Inspection Authority checked foods intended for specific groups of consumers, as suggested by the labelling. Regulations specify certain messages that manufacturers may use to emphasize special properties of their products, e.g. when a product can be called gluten-free, low-calorie/light, a dietary supplement or intended for young children. However, they cannot claim that food helps in healing or prevents diseases.

Inspectors visited 82 stores and three wholesalers throughout the country. They checked 817 batches of food. Over half of them (427) were products for young children, the others were intended for people on a gluten-free diet (191), athletes (68), diabetics (45), slimming (21) etc. The Inspection did not investigate infant formulas or foods for special medical purposes.

Irregularities were found in 27 inspected facilities (31.8 percent) The inspection questioned 77 batches (9.4 percent.). Most reservations concerned the labelling.

Examples of bad labelling:

  • unlawful statement, e.g. "low-calorie" on a product with an energy value of 367 kcal per 100 g, whereas such wording is allowed when a product has no more than 40 kcal per 100 g,
  • contradictory information on the packaging, e.g. “food for special nutritional purposes intended for infants and young children” and “after month 12” (“infants” are children under one year and “young children” are children aged 1-3),
  • invalid product names, e.g.:

- the term "natural" on gluten-free breads containing thickeners, preservatives or dyes,

- "very fruity" jelly containing only 0.1 percent of strawberry powder,

  • improper information on allergens, e.g. using the formula "may contain trace amounts...", which is ambiguous, because the regulations do not define what “trace amounts” means. If the amount of a given allergen is significant, it should be included in the list of ingredients. If contamination is likely, the manufacturer does not have to mention it or may use phrases such as "possible presence...", "may contain..." or similar, without "trace amounts".

80 batches of products were taken to the laboratory, where the inspectors compared their composition with information on the packaging. They questioned only 4 batches
(5 percent) of investigated products. For example, in a dark chocolate, they found sugar content higher than declared in the nutritional value table, and also found sucrose and lactose, not even mentioned by the manufacturer. It also turned out that in products for infants and young children there were several times more vitamin C than indicated on the packaging.

The inspectors also ordered the withdrawal of 10 batches of expired products from the stores. The irregularities were notified to the regional inspectorates for the commercial quality of agri-food products and the sanitary supervision authorities.

Consumers, please remember:

  • a healthy person does not have to eat "special" food - do not use it as a substitute for a varied diet,
  • carefully read the information on the packaging, such as the name, list of ingredients, nutritional value, to make sure that the product suits your needs,
  • on foods for young children, look for the age at which the child can consume them,
  • products for people with illnesses are identified by the name "Food for special medical purposes" and the statement “for dietary treatment of...", where the name of
    a disease, disorder or illness shall be given instead of dots.

Do you have any doubts or objections? Please, contact the Trade Inspection.

The audit report is available only in Polish.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office 
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa
Tel. 695 902 088
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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