Dairy Australia urges FSANZ to accept ‘sports drink health claims’ for dairy products

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th January 2015
Dairy Australia urges FSANZ to accept ‘sports drink health claims’ for dairy products
Dairy Australia urges FSANZ to accept ‘sports drink health claims’ for dairy products

Dairy Australia has made a submission to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), urging the regulator to allow milk products in Australia and New Zealand to carry health claims for replenishment of the body following intense or strenuous exercise.

FSANZ is the bi-national regulator responsible for the wording of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code).

The Food Standards Code since early 2013 regulates health claims for most foods through Standard 1.2.7. However, health claims for a number of ‘special purpose foods’ such as electrolyte drinks and other sports supplements have separate permissions for special health claims within the food Standard of each special-purpose food.

Dairy Australia told Australian Food News that milk (a ‘general food’) could “provide the same benefits as electrolyte drinks” (a ‘special purpose food’). The spokesperson for Dairy Australia told Australian Food News that there ought to be a regulatory facility to present a dairy food to the consumer with the same claims for milk product for the same purpose and permissions to communicate the same benefits as for electrolyte drinks.

Health claims on sports drinks

Australian Food News reported in October 2014 that FSANZ was running a public consultation process on whether electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade should be able to carry their own health claims and bypass the usual consumer protection tests of Standard 1.2.7. It is a requirement of Standard 1.2.7 that in order for a product to have a health claim, the food must meet certain strict nutrition profile scoring criteria for energy, sugars, sodium and other key nutrients to be eligible to carry such a health claim like “improves hydration” or “reduces cholesterol”.

Leading Australian consumer group CHOICE has said  that allowing sports drinks to carry health claims would “mislead consumers into believing that sports drinks are generally a healthy option” and warned the Australian food regulator “not to be sweet talked by the beverage industry”. CHOICE made no reference to the dairy industry or dairy products.

The FSANZ proposal, P1030 – Health Claims for Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods & Electrolyte Drinks, has been considering whether to have the ‘electrolyte drinks’ requirements for health claims governed by the standards for ‘Special Purpose Foods’ or whether these should be governed, similar to other health claims, in accordance to Standard 1.2.7.

This proposal, P1030, does not mention general foods such as milks or milk based drinks.

Dairy Australia submission to FSANZ sports drink proposal

Dairy Australia said the FSANZ consultation provided the opportunity to raise the issue of general foods like milks that could fulfil the same function as electrolyte drinks and formulated supplementary sports foods for the sector of the population undertaking intense/strenuous exercise, and the lack of ability to make similar claims to the same extent as these formulated special purpose foods.

Dairy Australia’s submission seeks a resolution to be identified through ongoing standards review work to address the issue, and permit similar claims to the same extent for both general foods like milk drinks and electrolyte drinks/formulated supplementary sports foods that provide the same benefit when used for the same purpose.

Aside from the health benefits for the general population, Dairy Australia said there was “a growing body of evidence to support the benefits of dairy foods for intense/strenuous activity including hydration”.

Study finds milk-based drinks ‘more effective’ rehydration option

According to the submission by Dairy Australia, recent study from Griffith University found that, compared with electrolyte drink Powerade, milk-based drinks such as cow’s milk, soy milk and milk-based liquid meal supplement Sustagen Sport, were “more effective rehydration options” following exercise-induced fluid losses.

The study’s authors said the “additional energy, protein and sodium in a milk-based liquid meal supplement facilitate superior fluid recovery following exercise”.

For the study, fifteen male participants with an average age of 24.9 years undertook intermittent cycling before consuming a different beverage on four separate occasions. The beverages were consumed over one hour in volumes equivalent to 150 per cent of body mass loss. Body mass, blood and urine samples, and measures of gastrointestinal tolerance were obtained before and hourly for four hours after beverage consumption.

Net body mass at the conclusion of each trial was significantly less with Powerade (–1.37 ± 0.3 kg) than with cow’s milk (–0.92 ± 0.48 kg), soy milk (–0.78 ± 0.37 kg), and Sustagen Sport (–0.48 ± 0.39 kg). Net body mass was also significantly greater for Sustagen Sport compared with cow’s milk trials, but not soy milk.

Upon completion of trials, the percentage of beverage retained was Sustagen Sport 65.1 per cent ± 14.7 per cent, soy milk 46.9 per cent ± 19.9 per cent, cow’s milk 40.0 per cent ± 24.9 per cent, and Powerade 16.6 per cent ± 16.5 per cent. Changes in plasma volume and electrolytes were unaffected by drink treatment.