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The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act (‘the Act’) was passed into law in 1991. The purpose of the Act was to ensure a high standard of public health protection throughout Australia and New Zealand by means of the establishment and operation of a joint body known as Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
The Act provides for the introduction into our domestic law of a number of standard codes of compliance. For example, on 18 January 2013, Standard 1.2.7 was implemented, which relates to nutrition, health and related claims (‘the Standard’).
The Standard was developed through a 10 year consultation process between the Australia New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council and Food Standard Australia New Zealand.
Prior to the Standard being passed, food manufacturers were able to market products as being “low fat” or “fat free”, when the product was in fact, high in sugar. Similarly a product could be marketed as being “sugar free” when it was high in saturated fat.
The purpose of the standard is to:
1. Set out the claims that can be made on labels or in advertisements about the nutritional content of food (described as nutrition content claims) or the relationship between a food or a property of a food, and a health effect (described as health claims),
2. Describe the conditions under which such claims can be made, and
3. Describe the circumstances in which endorsements can be provided on labels or in advertisements.
A product must satisfy a Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion before it can make claims to having health benefits. Products can also only be endorsed by an independent body that has no financial interest in the product. Endorsers will need to satisfy these requirements under the Standard before they can provide endorsements on products, such as the Heart Foundation Tick.
The introduction of Food Standards is the Government’s answer to increasing consumer demands for more knowledge about the make-up of foods we eat and where they originate.
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