FSANZ shortly to release revised draft Health Claims Standard

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th February 2012

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is expected this month to release for consultation a fresh version of draft Standard 1.2.7 Nutrition, Health and Related Claims. This will be FSANZ’s  fifth draft of the proposed Standard within the past 8 years.

The regulatory issues surrounding the development, for inclusion in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, of a food standard to proscribe the advertising or label claims in Australia in relation to various health or nutritional or functional claims, remains contentious and highly-debated.

According to food law expert Joe Lederman of food industry specialist lawyers FoodLegal, some restrictions sought to be imposed under previous drafts have caused considerable angst for food companies. Many companies want to sell healthier food formulations based on their substantial research and development into product innovation, especially for foods that can improve health.

“In some instances, inappropriate restrictions or prohibitions on describing the healthy aspects of foods have inadvertently occurred because of inconsistencies in trying to impose generic standards based on what government officials consider to be healthy”, Mr. Lederman said.

FSANZ has also been requested by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation (formerly the ANZ Food Regulation Ministerial Council) to consider the use of “fat free” and “% fat fee claims” on food products with a view to determining if they are potentially misleading on some products and therefore should be subject to some regulatory restrictions. The issue has recently come up in the EU, as reported by Australian Food News last week.

FSANZ will re-examine these claims and forming a view on their use by industry. Further amendment of the draft Standard 1.2.7 may be needed to address any concerns uncovered by FSANZ.

The food industry meanwhile awaits the release of the new draft Standard with baited breath.

Industry representatives have previously expressed numerous concerns, such as potential unnecessary costs on industry and government, inappropriate restrictions on food marketing in various circumstances without appropriate scientific justification, as well as the possible impediments to truthful and substantiated information to consumers regarding the health benefits in consuming particular foods within the context of a healthy diet.