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Why is there an EU regulation on VLCD?
In short, it is to protect the consumer.
We must ensure that the products we put on the market live up to the high standards in the EU. When you use a VLCD, which stand for Very Low Calorie Diet, a full meal replacement – and you do not necessarily eat regular food alongside it, it is extremely important that you get the right nutrition so that you do not become malnourished in the long term.
The EU regulation sets some framework around the content of VLCD. Intervals are set up for how much protein, fat, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals should be in the products, to ensure the body gets what it needs during the day. These values are continuously re-evaluated due to new knowledge. That is why there are sometimes changes in the formula of VLCD products.
What does the new regulation entail?
It is not always just the content of the VLCD that the EU will change. It is also the food information related to the use of the product. Previously, you could be on VLCD for 3 weeks without seeking advice from your own doctor, now you can be on a VLCD for 8 weeks. It is no longer allowed to use nutrition and health claims, i.e. VLCD must not be marketed as having no added sugar, as this is a nutritional claim.
The nutritional content has also been adjusted so that it follows the new EU rules on more protein, a higher content of the healthy fat (linoleic and linolenic acid) and fewer carbohydrates. In addition, and as something new, choline has been added.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration receives notifications on new products so that they can keep a record of them. Furthemore, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration also carries out physical inspection visits, so that everyone is in accordance that as a company we comply with the applicable rules both in relation to content and marketing.
What does the new regulation mean for our products?
The new regulation has had a huge impact on Nupo as a company. Behind the development of a product, lies a massive workload. We offer many flavors, all of which need a total reformulation. New packaging must be made for every single variant. Both the visual and the written communication on our website needs to be corrected, on every product, every blog and everything else related to VLCD. From the customers’ point of view, there has of course also been a change in the experience of the product. The products have changed consistency due to the higher fat content, and the taste has undeniably also slightly changed because the amount of the various macronutrients has been adjusted. In return, we now have a product that contains an even better nutritional profile than ever before.
What has Nupo’s process looked like?
The deadline for the finished VLCD product was October 2022, but we chose to implement the changes already in 2021. We were therefore the first on the Danish market to implement the new regulation – and with great success.
Each flavor had to be adjusted within the new VLCD framework and with the right ingredients. After that, taste and consistency had to be tested and approved. The nutritional profile will always have first priority, and then we adapt the taste as best we can.
All packaging had to be adjusted at the same time, as there were of course adjustments to the labelling. It was thus two large projects that ran side by side until the completely finished product was ready just after the summer of 2021.