|New food labelling regulations become law|
|Thursday, 04 March 2010|
After many long years in the debating, compiling and amending, South Africa's new food labelling regulations have finally become law, with Regulation R146 published in the Government Gazette of March 1, 2010.
The regulations Governing the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs are part of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics & Disinfectants Act (Act 54 of 1972) which controls the sale, manufacture and importation of all foodstuffs within South Africa. This Act is regulated by the Department of Health (DoH). The old regulations (from 1993) were outdated and the intention was to replace them with more effective rules to strengthen the effectiveness of food labelling legislation, close all known loopholes and incorporate new developments resulting from scientific research as well as international Codex Standards and Guidelines. Hence the compilation of the new regulations by DoHs Directorate: Food Control (DFC).
The majority of regulations will come into operation 12 months after the date of final publication.
R146 focuses on several strategies to improve public health through healthy food choices and improved nutrition through special food formulations, which are based on the latest available scientific evidence. It also plays a role in assisting consumers with reliable label information to make informed choices about healthier food options because healthier food choices are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.
These regulations also seek to implement the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisations Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Aspects such as a more extensive list of definitions, prohibited and misleading statements, prescribed letter sizes, product naming, batch identification, date markings, nutrition claims (prescribed wordings and cut-off values), allergens, nutritional information and ingredient listings are some of the many other aspects they address.
Only the less complex
and controversial aspects of the intended regulations have been
published, while several other issues are on hold pending further
developments, reports and scientific data. These aspects include:
Download the new regulations and their backing guidelines at http://www.doh.gov.za/department/foodcontrol/main.html.
The South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST) welcomes the publishing of the long-awaited Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs Regulations. Food professionals countrywide look forward to working with the new regulations and towards putting them to the test in the interests of maximising consumer value and benefit. SAAFoST also looks forward to making its specialist expertise available in facilitating the fast tracking the more contentious "phase two" of the regulations, a draft of which will still have to be published for comment - some time soon, hopefully. This second part deals with nutrient profiling, health claims, marketing to children, serving sizes and dietary guidelines on labels - complex and often emotional issues that have had to be very carefully deliberated.
Rosie Maguire, president of SAAFoST
All the guessing is over! At last we have the regulations gazetted and can see in black and white what's in, what's out and what's changed and how significantly. Overall, it would seem that sanity, sense and science have prevailed but the greatest tragedy is that had the government consulted earlier, we could have had these regulations complete, in-place and in-force years ago and with less animosity. I only hope that the lesson has been learnt, especially as most of the health claims are excluded, pending further discussion and debate. So we are still years away from the final goal.
Jane Badham, Managing Director; JB Consultancy; Health Communication & Strategy Consultants