The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) slammed the proposals saying fruit juice, canned fish and dairy health claims would be barred due to fat, sugar or fat levels exceeding mandatory thresholds.
This would mean orange juice may not be able to state that is, “a good source of Vitamin C” due to fructose levels; or canned fish could be barred from mentioning that it contains, “Omega-3 for healthy heart function” due to salt or fate levels.
AFGC acting chief executive Dr Geoffrey Annison said the proposals were a threat to healthy food innovation, something the industry was investing heavily in. Jobs were also under threat.
“Healthier food products will be seriously hampered by this restrictive regulation – any framework developed should aim to increase product innovation and reformulation, not stifle it,” Annison said.
“Industry is already under intense pressure from a confluence of forces including the rising cost of labour, energy, water, transport and high global commodity prices impacting on its profitability and ability to innovate and employ,” he said.
“It’s a very serious issue for the 312,000 Australians employed in the food and grocery manufacturing industry,” he remarked.
Dr Annison said the standard was at odds with current dietary guidelines set by the National Health and Medical Research Council, which recommend consuming many of the in-question foods as part of a balanced diet.
“Current health claims made by food companies should be allowed to continue under any future nutrition and health claim standards, unless they are demonstrated to be untruthful,” Annison said.
FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon said the proposed standards would regulate claims made about the nutrition content of a food, or a relationship between a food and health.
“There are two principal types of claims; nutrition content claims such as low in fat or source of calcium, and health claims, which refer to a relationship between a food and health, such as calcium and bone health,” McCutcheon said.