Australian and New Zealand health claims update

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health claims, New zealand, Nutrition, Australia new zealand

An update on proposed health claim regulations in Australia
and New Zealand, which could have far-reaching results for
European companies, will be given at a conference later this month.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) will be in charge of regulating health claims in foods from next year. This legislation will be of a similar nature to the rules on claims already drawn up in the European Union. The subject of what health or nutritional claims can be made on a food product has been the focus of much debate in Europe over the past five years. In the EU, regulation 1924/2006 came into force in the UK from 1 July 2007, and means any food product claiming to have a health, nutritional or disease related benefit, must meet a list of European Commission-approved wording. With Australia and New Zealand going down the same path, companies looking to sell their products on the market will need to pay close attention to the final legislation. In Australia and New Zealand the first round of public consultation for Nutrition, Health and Related Claims was held in 2004. Responses to the draft report raised a number of "critical issues" that needed "further consideration." FSANZ is now considering a final report and hopes recommendations on health claims will be sent to the government in May 2008. According to the Times of India, FSANZ spokesperson Lydia Buchtmann admitted some companies were "sailing pretty close to the wind​" with the general health claims they had been making. "Functional foods are moving from food that fills you up and are good for you to something that will prevent cancer and urinary tract infection for example​," she told the paper. Manufacturers must have scientific proof, and the food's ingredients will be put through a computerised "nutrient profiler" to measure good and bad ingredients, the Times of India said. The conference will also give the opportunity for the Australian research body, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), to talk about some of the developments in functional foods it has made. Dr Bruce Lee, CSIRO director, is expected to update attendees with developments made on glycoprotein with a "satiating effect" and potential to control weight. However, a spokesperson from CSIRO was not available for further details prior to publication. Other international speakers will also be at the Food Safety Conference, New Directions 2007, will be held September 19 to 21 in Sydney.

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