20 November 2002
FINAL ASSESSMENT REPORT (s.36)
Full Report [ pdf 73 kb ]
The purpose of this Proposal is to consider whether:
electrolytic iron should be reinstated as a permitted form of iron for addition to infant foods, particularly infant cereals; and
the meaning of the term 'juice' in the context of Standard 2.9.2 - Foods for Infants needs clarification.
This Final Assessment Report discusses issues raised in submissions and makes recommendations on draft variations to Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code (Attachment 1).
The currently permitted forms of iron (Standard R6, Volume 1 of the Food Standards Code, and Amendment 13 to the New Zealand Food Regulations 1984) used in fortification of infant cereal products have been inadvertently omitted from Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code. Without such permission, infant cereal products may become unavailable after the end of the transition period (December 2002) thus risking the nutritional health of weaning infants.
Clarification of the term 'juice'
The differing interpretations of 'juice' in Standard 2.9.2 and the resultant differences in the labelling of infant juice products is potentially misleading infant carers, and not promoting fair trading in foods. Standard 2.9.2 may be interpreted as allowing the label 'fruit juice' , suitably qualified, to appear on diluted fruit juice products for infants, whereas Standard 2.6.2 - Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Brewed Soft Drinks requires such diluted products to be labelled as fruit drinks.
In relation to iron in infant cereals, the key objective in assessing this Proposal relates to the protection of public health and safety, whereas in relation to the meaning of 'juice' for infants, the objectives relate to the prevention of consumer deception and promotion of fair trade.
Two options have been considered - amend Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code to include electrolytic iron and ferrum reductum (reduced iron) as permitted forms of iron for addition to infant foods, and to clarify the meaning of 'juice' as it relates to infant juice products such that infant products are not labelled inappropriately as juice (Option 1); or do not amend Volume 2 (Option 2).
Option 1 is the preferred option. This option will be cost effective and of net benefit to the food industry, infants and their carers.
Under section 36 of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act) the Authority has decided to omit one round of public consultation as it is satisfied that the Proposal raises issues of minor significance and complexity only.
A total of 6 submissions were received in response to public consultation. A summary of submitter comments is at Attachment 2. All submitters supported the proposed amendments in relation to the permitted forms of iron for use in infant foods. All but one submitter supported the proposed amendment to clarify the meaning of 'juice' in relation to infant juice products. Issues raised in submissions are discussed in Section 5.3.2.
Conclusion and Statement of Reasons
Adoption of the proposed amendments to Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code to include electrolytic iron and ferrum reductum (reduced iron) as permitted forms of iron for addition to infant foods, and to clarify the meaning of 'juice' in Standard 2.9.2 to be consistent with its meaning in Standard 2.6.1, is recommended for the following reasons:
- Electrolytic iron or ferrum reductum (reduced iron) are the most suitable forms of iron added to cereal foods, and are widely used in these products in other developed markets.
- Other permitted forms of iron affect the stability of the product and cause undesirable changes in the taste profile and colour;
- With the inadvertent omission of this permission in Volume 2 to allow the use of electrolytic iron, infant cereals may become unavailable after the end of the transition period, which may put the health of weaning infants at risk;
- The labelling of equivalent infant juice products as either juice or fruit drink because of the ambiguity of the term 'juice' in food regulation may mislead carers and negates the promotion of fair trade; and
- the impact analysis has concluded that the proposed option is cost-effective and of net benefit to infants, their carers and the food industry.
It is proposed that the draft amendment in relation to electrolytic iron comes into effect on gazettal; whereas the clarification of 'juice' comes into effect 12 months after gazettal.
Full Report [ pdf 73 kb ]