The promulgation of the Regulations related to the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs in March this year, and effective in March 2011, will have a dramatic effect on all food and beverage labelling, reports AdVantage. The Regulations fall under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972).
The change in the labelling and advertising regulations was the Department of Health’s response to the World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity & Health. Consumers will be provided with much more accurate information on food labels and advertising, and it means that almost every food and beverage pack will have to be redesigned, says Barry Skjoldhammer, the Director of Labelling Solutions at Labelpak. “The reason I say this is because presently no product is in fact compliant”. He says that while the regulations are clear, there is a great deal of confusion amongst food and beverage marketers as to the exact regulations.
The regulations aim to curb the over-exaggeration of claims, and the manufacturers have to back up all such claims. The size of the font used on packaging has been regulated. Claims about a particular characteristic of a product cannot be made when it already contains that characteristic – e.g. one cannot claim that milk has calcium, or that fruit juice has Vitamin C.
The regulations prescribe that the following can be communicated on pack labels:
* Nutrient content
* comparative claims – claims such as ‘lite’, ‘less than’, and ‘reduced’ are allowed, but are a minefield.
* country of origin
* date/batch identification
* food additives – must be listed in descending order in the ingredient list.
* allergens, such as milk, fish, peanuts, some cereals, uncommon allergens, and potential cross-contamination in the production process, etc., must be declared in brackets
* nutritional information
* amount of ingredients in product which are emphasised on the label
The Regulations forbid the following:
* Nutrient function claims
* Enhanced function claims
* Reduction of disease claims
* Pre- and pro-biotic claims
* Glycemic Index claims
* Slimming claims
* Negative claims
* Misleading descriptions may not be created through words, the logo or artwork on the pack. “A word, statement, logo, pictorial representation on a product that implies, for example, ‘healthier’ will not be allowed if they are not linked to specific protocols with the Department of Agriculture.”
Labelpak worked with its client Fruitime, in changing the packaging to meet the new Regulations. It had to remove the claims “no sugar added” and “contains real fruit”; storage instructions have been added; the fruit photograph had to be changed to reflect the contents in the ingredients list; nutritional information was added; the blend name (‘Tropical Blend’) met the minimum size requirement of more than 4 mm.
The new pack labelling and advertising regulations should help South African consumers make more informed and healthier choices in their brand purchases, which is what the World Health Organisation wishes to achieve world-wide.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter @WhaleCottage