Agreement has been reached on two key EU directives covering respectively nutrition and health claims for food and the addition of vitamins, minerals and other substances to foods.

The deal, which has already attracted criticism from consumer groups as being too weak, was struck this week between the Austrian EU presidency, representing the 25 EU member states, and the European Parliament and will be formally voted on by the Parliament next Tuesday (16 May).

Under health claims, the compromise text allows producers, among other things, to make claims under one of three headings – fat, sugar or salt – if the rest of the product accords to the regulations or if it is clearly stated that the other two are present in an “increased content”.

It also provides for a “fast track” procedure under which authorisations that could take up to two years are completed in eight months – but this provision excludes “risk-reducing” products or foods targeted at children.