Australian food industry body opposes “unworkable” Health Claims standard
- July 9, 2012
- Amy Brown
The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has changed its stance towards the proposed Health Claims Standard, which government agency Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has been developing for more than a decade. The Health Claims standard had been proposed to replace the current transitional standard in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (‘Food Standard Code’) that officially bans the making of most Health Claims.
The AFGC position reflects a major change to its previously supportive policy for development of a Health Claims standard with strict criteria.
The AFGC is proposing a new system for industry self-regulation of health claims on packaged Australian food products. The current transitional standard that has operated since 2002 has banned the making of most health claims. Yet, many food companies have been making ‘nutrition property claims’ and other ‘functional’ health-related claims for their products in various guises that have challenged the very concept and various eligibility criteria.
The AFGC’s new policy could allow food products to be promoted with unsubstantiated health claims that might be provable later.
The AFGC has said the proposed draft Health Claims standard, which contains a list of pre-approved food-health relationships on which health claims can be based, is “extremely inadequate and unworkable” and has recommended it be rejected.
As Australian Food News recently reported, the issue of health claims on packaged foods is posing a new dilemma for the government food ministerial forum which consists of all Federal and Srtate government health ministers. Heinz’s Golden Circle probiotic fruit juice, for example, claims on the label to “support your immune defences”. The AFGC’s view also appears to oppose the notion of government pre-approvals.
The regulatory minefield of health claims on food packaging is the central theme of an upcoming FoodLegal Symposium on 21 August 2012. Registration online is available here. The event program is also available for download by clicking here.
Acting CEO of the AFGC, Dr Geoffrey Annison, has today accepted FoodLegal’s invitation to address this Symposium as one of the keynote speakers, together with other speakers from FSANZ, the New South Wales Food Authority, FoodLegal, CSIRO, and a leading New Zealand expert of supplement food laws that some Australian companies have also been utilising.