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P270 I/DAR Exec Summary (2 October 2002)

2 October 2002

INITIAL/DRAFT ASSESSMENT REPORT (s. 36)

DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS to the Authority in relation to this matter:
16 October 2002

(See 'Invitation for Public Submissions' for details)

Full Report [ pdf 187 kb ]

Executive Summary and Statement of Reasons

Regulatory Problem

Electrolytic iron

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 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, such that Standard 2.9.2 may be interpreted as allowing the label 'fruit juice' , suitably qualified, to appear on diluted fruit juice products, whereas Standard 2.6.2 requires such diluted products to be labelled as fruit drinks.

Objective

In relation to iron in infant cereals, the key objective in assessing this Proposal relates to 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.

Options

Two options have been considered - amend Volume 2 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).

Impacts

Option 1 is the preferred option. This option will be cost effective and of net benefit to both the food industry, infants and their carers.

Consultation

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.

Conclusion and Statement of Reasons

Adoption of the proposed amendments to 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 187 kb ]

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