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Sports foods

(June 2019)

Sports foods are specially formulated to help people achieve specific nutritional or sporting performance goals. They are intended to supplement the diet of sports people rather than be the only or main source of nutrition. These products are regulated under Standard 2.9.4 – Formulated supplementary sports foods.

To meet the specific dietary requirements of sports people, this Standard allows the addition of substances that are not permitted or are restricted in other foods as well as higher levels of some vitamins and minerals. This means that these foods are not suitable for children or pregnant women.

The labels of sports foods must:

  • say ‘formulated supplementary sports food’
  • indicate that they are not a sole source of nutrition and should be consumed in conjunction with a nutritious diet and an appropriate physical training or exercise program
  • provide directions stating the recommended quantity and frequency of intake of the food and state the recommended consumption of the food in one day
  • state that that they are ‘Not suitable for children under 15 years of age or pregnant women: Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision’.

The labels of sports foods must also provide the same information required on nearly all packaged foods. For example, a nutrition information panel and a list of the ingredients must be provided on the labels of most sports foods.

Standard 2.9.4 is now under review see Proposal (P1010). Sports people are advised to consume the sports food as recommended on the label. Information about ingredients or substances that are not permitted for specific sports can be found at individual sporting associations or the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority website.

More information (including resources) is available from the Australian Institute of Sport website.

Other foods used by sports people are not regulated specifically as sports foods, such as general purpose foods (e.g. pasta, bananas, meat) and electrolyte drinks.

Also, the New Zealand Supplemented Food Standard allows for a separate category of foods that have a substance or substances added or that have been modified in some way to perform a physiological role beyond the provision of a simple nutritive requirement. Because of the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement, these supplemented foods can be sold in Australia.

Sports people may also use non-food dietary supplements (i.e. generally those in tablet, capsule, powder or concentrated liquid forms). These are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia and Medsafe in New Zealand.

On 31 July 2019 the Therapeutic Goods Administration issued a media release on the regulation of sports supplements in Australia.


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