The Government is riding the wave of Australia’s health craze by enacting a new Food Standard. The new food standard coincides with the increase of nutritional apps entering the market including Frugal, FoodSwitch and ShopWell – smartphone apps that scan a label to disclose the nutritional and health information contained in a product.

The new Food Standard 1.2.7 (‘the Standard’) comes into effect on 1 March 2016 and sets out strict requirements for businesses to verify the nutritional and health claims attached to a food product. The Standard obliges companies to define nutritional and health claims contained in food products. The Standard attempts to make it easier for businesses to label food in line with these requirements. Consequently, the Australian Government body, Food Standard’s Australia and New Zealand (‘FSANZ’) decided that it no longer needs its user guides on food labels.

The New Standard Quantifies Nutritional and Health Claims

Nutritional claims are about the content of certain nutrients of substances in food, for example ‘rich in calcium’. Consistent with these new standards, claims will need to satisfy the criteria set out in the Standard. So a product marketed as ‘rich in calcium’ ultimately means high in calcium and will then need to contain more than the amount of calcium quantified in the standard.

Health claims describe the relationship between food and health, and will be broken down into the following:

1. General level claims such as “calcium is good for your bones”; and

2. High-level claims such as “reduce your risk of osteoporosis through a high calcium intake”.

Tips for a Businesses Producing Health Conscious Products

Businesses making general health claims can look to more than 200 pre-approved food-health relationships in the Standard.

For a business to make a general level health claim on a food label or in an advertisement, a business must either:

  • Show that FSANZ has pre-approved their food health claim as listed in Schedule 3 of the Standard; or
  • Conduct a systematic review in line with Schedule 6 of the Standard.

A Systematic Review is a detailed process that conducts a study and reports on the relationship of the food property and the health effect.

When making high health claims on a product, you will need to obtain approval from the FSANZ. Applications for a high-level health claim must follow the application requirements in the ‘Application Handbook’. Businesses must base high-level health claims on a food-health relationship that has FSANZ has pre-approved.

Benefits of the New Food Standard

The new Standard reduces consumer risks of misleading and deceptive food claims by clearly defining the range of permitted health claims and providing clarity for enforcing the standards.

Appetizing Opportunities to Meet Your Dietary Goals

We are observing a dramatic shift in Australian society towards the health conscious individual. If shoppers are going to buy products based purely on their health nutritional content, the Government has done a proactive job in ensuring people get what they pay for.

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What do you think about the new Food Standards? Tag us on Twitter @legalvision_au and let us know.

Lachlan McKnight

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