Earlier this week, Choice released a study saying that packaging of products such as Sanitarium’s Up & Go and Kellogg’s breakfast drinks contained unreasonable claims.
“Shonky claims on liquid breakfasts such as ‘high in fibre’, ‘fibre for digestive health’ and ‘goodness of three grains’ is a cause for concern,” said Choice’s Tom Godfrey. “Liquid breakfasts have on average 1.5% fibre, which is well below the 10% benchmark for high fibre. It is grains away from the 39.5% fibre offered by some bran cereals.”
However, the industry has criticised Choice’s research, calling into question its metrics and citing current legislation, which it says was not considered by the watchdog.
They suggest Choice has confused the regulations that allow another three years for manufacturers to implement a new code of standards.
“Where was the balance?” asked Katherine Rich, chief executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, referring to FoodNavigator-Asia’s report.
“The initial Australian story creates a false impression and is misleading rubbish. Food companies have until 2016 – I repeat, 2016 – to comply with the new health standard.
“All the foods discussed currently comply with Australian and New Zealand food laws. There is nothing ‘shonky’ about current claims. Regulators always give transition times as food companies can't miraculously make changes overnight.”
Rich added that any changes to the code are still a matter for debate as fibre levels for the new health standard are still being discussed and could change further.
“If breakfast drinks had the 39.5% fibre level Choice seems to be demanding, it would be impossible to drink them.”
Sanitarium has also hit back, asserting that its products meet the standard set by the Code of Practice on Nutrient Claims (CoPoNC), set by FSANZ’s predecessor. The company has stated that a food product must contain no less than 3g of fibre per serve to comply with the requirements for a “high in fibre” claim.
“Sanitarium Up & Go fibre content of 3.8 grams is well in excess of the CoPoNC code of practice requirement to enable a ‘high fibre’ content claim,” said Michelle Reid, nutritionist for Sanitarium.
“If liquid breakfasts contained 20 per cent fibre, as Choice proposes for a high-fibre claim, there would be 50 grams of fibre per serve – which is almost double the recommended daily intake – and no doubt inedible. It would be like eating 1.5 loaves of wholegrain bread a day.”
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