Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Food health claims to require evidence:

Food manufacturers required to have evidence to back-up health claims.
Date: December 08 2012
Editor Rating:

Food manufacturers claiming their products are 'low fat' or 'high in calcium' will have to back up their advertising with scientific evidence under new standards agreed by federal and state governments.

Federal, state and territory ministers at a food regulation forum endorsed the new regulatory regime for nutrition and health claims at a meeting in Brisbane on Friday.

But companies will have a three-year grace period before they have to comply.

"The new standard regulates the voluntary use of nutrition content claims such as 'low fat' and health claims like 'contains calcium for healthy bones' as well as endorsements," federal parliamentary secretary for health Catherine King said in a statement.

"The system is necessary to ensure health claims only appear on healthy foods and that those foods containing higher levels of sugar, fat and salt will not be able to claim health benefits."

Ms King said manufacturers who make claims on packaged foods will have to support them with scientific evidence.

A communique issued after the meeting stated the new standard "aims to ensure consumers can have confidence that health claims are evidence-based".

The communique also noted "good progress" on front-of-pack food labelling which is due to be finalised by mid-2013.

Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundaiton welcomed the move.

Clare Hughes of the Cancer Council said independent nutrient profiling would help people make informed choices.

"This is a good result for consumers wanting to make healthier choices particularly at a time when Australia faces an unprecedented burden of diet-related disease," she said.

Dr Lyn Roberts of the National Heart Foundation said that better informed consumers meant they could make better and healthier choices.

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