New food labelling standard requires scientific support for claims about health benefits

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has signed a new standard for food health labelling.

The standard will give legal effect to a new food regulation for making claims about the health properties of food on labels covering more than 200 pre-approved food health claims.

It applies in NZ and Australia and covers claims on food labels ranging from ‘low in fat’ to more specific claims such as ‘diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in people 65 years and over’.

Health claims will be permitted only on certain foods and strict requirements aim to ensure the claims are evidence-based.

The New Zealand and Australian Ministers responsible for food regulation approved the new joint standard regulating nutrition and health claims on food standards in December 2012. The standard will take effect in New Zealand from 9 May, now it has been signed off by the Food Safety Minister.

Food companies have three years to fully comply.

In a media release (here) Ms Kaye said:

“This is a win for both consumers and food businesses. In my view this helps New Zealand food to be first off the shelf at home and abroad.

“Consumers will be able to maintain a healthier diet with better information about nutrition content and health claims on labelling and advertising.

“Families who want to eat healthier food will be more empowered by this new labelling regime.

“They can have confidence as food businesses will need to ensure they can back up their health claims with scientific evidence.

“That opens the way for companies to invest in innovative new food products with health benefits, for both the New Zealand and export markets.

Food accounts for just over 52% ($24.3bn in 2012) of NZ’s total export income.

More information is available at:

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