New Food Standard to Affect Nutrition and Health claims – Is Your Business Ready for the Change?

On 18 January 2013, a new food Standard (Standard 1.2.7 – Nutrition, Health and Related Claims) developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) came into force in New Zealand and Australia. The text of Standard 1.2.7 can be found at www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L00054.

Businesses in the food industry have until 18 January 2016 to ensure that any voluntary nutrition content or health claim that they include on labels or advertisements meets this new Standard. However, businesses can start using the new Standard now.

The new Standard is seen as good for consumers as it assists them in making an informed choice about the food they are buying. It is also seen as a positive step in supporting the development of innovative foods for health. This is because the Standard requires that certain criteria be met before particular health or nutrition claims can be made in relation to certain food products.

The new Standard includes four defined types of nutrition and health claims as follows.

1. Nutrition Content Claims

These are claims that a particular substance or nutrient is included or not included in a food. For example, if a claim of “low cholesterol” is made in relation to a food, the food can not contain any more than a set amount of cholesterol as prescribed in the Standard.

2. General Level Health Claim

These are claims about a substance or nutrient in food and its effect on health. For example, a statement can be made on a product containing fruit and vegetables that fruit and vegetables “contribute to heart health” provided that the product includes 90% or more fruit and vegetables.

3. High Level Health Claim

These are claims about a substance or nutrient in food and its relationship to a serious disease or to a biomarker of a serious disease. For example, a statement can be made on a product containing calcium that calcium “reduces the risk of osteoporosis” provided that the food in relation to which such a claim is being made contains no less than 290mg of calcium per serving. The claim must also include a reference to any relevant population group (which in this example would be persons aged 65 and over). It must also include any relevant context statements (which in this example would be that the previous statements are in the context of a diet high in calcium and with adequate Vitamin D status).

Although the new Standard will not be compulsory until January 2016, it would be prudent for businesses to begin a review of the new Standard to ensure that the statements or claims being made on their packaging and advertising will adhere to the new Standard.

There will be some businesses whose products meet or are capable of meeting the relevant criteria in the new Standard. These businesses should consider reviewing their products, labelling and advertising to see how they can start promoting their products using the new health and nutrition claims allowed under Standard to their best advantage.