Big changes are on the way regarding the kinds of nutritional and health claims allowed to be displayed on food labels. Just because a muesli bar has 5 sparkly stars printed on it, does not guarantee that it has any actual benefits and the new standards will come down hard on manufacturers who make false claims.
The new laws are set to begin in just seven months and will give Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the authority responsible for regulating the standards, the power to issue huge fines for anyone that break the rules. Individuals who breach the standards could face fines of up to $55,000 while corporations could be fined up to $275,000.
Any food manufacturers that plan to make any health, nutritional or any similar claims on their packaging or advertising must ensure they have the evidence to back it up. The standards set out very specific requirements for exactly what must be achieved before any claims are permitted.
This means that if a sport drink wants to print on the label that it contains extra iron, it must meet the level of iron included in the new Health Claim Standards.
Labelling a hot topic
With many issues regarding food labelling currently being discussed in the media, this is another example of how important it is for consumers to know exactly what they are eating. Recent cases of contaminated food being imported into the country have sparked a vocal debate about country of origin labelling laws.
These new Health Claim Standards will go a long way towards providing more transparency with regards to exactly what a food product contains and will allow the consumer to make a more informed decision.
Although the standards were first introduced a few years ago, they are currently not mandatory and food manufacturers will have no legal obligation to comply with them until January 2016 this when the laws come fully into effect.