Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation
7 December 2012
Australian and New Zealand ministers responsible for the regulation of food met today to consider a range of issues including a revised health claims standard and progress on the interpretive front-of-pack labelling system.
Today’s meeting in Brisbane was chaired by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King.
Standard for Nutrition, Health and Related Claims
Ministers considered the review report for the draft Standard for Nutrition, Health and Related Claims provided by the Board of Food Standards Australia New Zealand and there was majority support to enact laws in early 2013 that are intended to regulate the way nutrition content and health claims are made. The new Standard regulates the voluntary use of nutrition content claims (e.g., ‘low fat’) and health claims (e.g., ‘contains calcium for healthy bones’). General level health claims (e.g. ‘calcium is good for strong bones’) can be supported by either pre-approved or industry self-substantiated food health relationships. High level health claims (e.g. ‘calcium reduces the risk of osteoporosis’) will require pre-approval by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. All health claims will be required to be supported by scientific evidence and will only be permitted on foods that meet specific eligibility criteria, including nutrition criteria. The new Standard aims to ensure that consumers can have confidence that health claims are evidence based. When gazetted, food businesses will have three years to meet the requirements of the new Standard.
During this period Food Standards Australia New Zealand plans to undertake further work with industry, public health and consumers on a range of issues including refining the nutrient profiling scoring criteria and developing and implementing a process to maintain the scientific currency of pre-approved food-health relationships.
Food Ministers noted the good progress made on the development of an Australian interpretive front-of-pack labelling system for food that would be easily understood by consumers. This initiative was a key priority arising from the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation Forum’s response to the food labelling review. The collaborative process with key stakeholders will continue in order to develop the system by mid June 2013. This is an important project that aims to help consumers to make more informed food choices, while fostering a strong food industry.
Ministers also noted progress on the review of the Policy Guideline on the Addition of Caffeine to Foods that is underway. Public consultation on the Policy Guideline is expected to commence in March next year.
Country of Origin Labelling
Ministers agreed to an Australian standard on country of origin labelling to include all unpackaged meat products and that implementation documentation should clarify that a business can comply with the requirement by displaying a single sign for Australian product with imported product specifically labelled.
Low THC Hemp
Ministers have sought a review on the proposed standard for low THC hemp as a food. Ministers have agreed to seek advice from the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Services.
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