Regulate “low fat,” “high calcium” food claims: FSANZ calls for submissions on standard

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) wants tougher regulation on food company’s abilities to use claims including "low fat," "good source of calcium" or "low salt" in their advertising.

The food regulator is calling for submissions on its draft nutrition, health and related claims standard, which FSANZ chief executive Steve McCutcheon said would regulate the voluntary use of health and nutrition claims.

“There are two principal types of claims; nutrition content claims such as ‘low in fat’ or ‘source of calcium’, and health claims, which refer to a relationship between a food and health, such as calcium and bone health,” he said.

FSANZ also wants comments on the part of the proposal considering regulation of ‘fat free’ and ‘percentage fat free’ claims.

The changes are part of the federal government’s promise to overhaul the food packaging industry by introducing a simple front-of-pack nutrition panel and get tougher on health claims on foods, following calls from consumer watchdog CHOICE and other health groups for a compulsory traffic light nutritional system to solve the obesity crisis.

Last year CHOICE pledged to "name and shame" food companies who made dodgy health claims and in October it revealed the unhealthiest ready-to-eat desserts labelled as‘fat-free’ and ‘reduced fat’, showing that they are not always a healthy option.

The previous FSANZ draft standard was subject to public consultation in 2009.

FSANZ has considered issues which arose from the Review of the draft legislation by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation and acknowledges that a diverse range in stakeholder opinions about this complex proposal are present.

It believes the draft standard strikes a balance between disparate views.

“FSANZ welcomes comments from government agencies, public health professionals, industry and the community on this draft of the proposed new standard,” McCutcheon said.

Submissions close on 16 March 2012.

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