Final assessment report



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5. Relevant Issues

The review of nutrition content and related claims (Proposal P234) commenced in May 2001. Since then there have been major changes to the food regulatory environment in Australia and New Zealand. The most significant changes that have affected the review include:




  • a separation of responsibilities for development of food policy and the development of food standards, with ultimate decision-making power residing with the Ministers; and



  • establishment of a new statutory body – FSANZ - to develop food standards. This organisation is based on the former ANZFA. However, the development of food policy is now the responsibility of the Ministerial Council.

The changes to the regulatory environment meant that the objectives of Proposal P234 were changed and at Draft Assessment, Proposal P234 considered criteria and conditions for nutrition content claims only. The Policy Guideline notified to FSANZ by the Ministerial Council in December 2003 incorporates other nutrition claims such as nutrition function claims, which have not been considered within the scope of Proposal P234. Nutrition function and enhanced function claims had been considered under Proposal P153 (Health Claims). Proposal P153 was recommended to ANZFSC in June 2001 but was not carried over in the transition to FSANZ so has since lapsed. Proposal P293 – Nutrition, Health and Related Claims has therefore been raised to implement all elements covered by the Policy Guideline, as notified by the Ministerial Council.


Therefore, to ensure that FSANZ gives full regard to the Policy Guideline as required under the new regulatory arrangements and any submissions received, FSANZ considers that the best approach is to reject Proposal P234 and to consider nutrition content claims under the new Proposal P293- Nutrition, Health and Related Claims. Proposal P293 will allow FSANZ to canvass new options that will be consistent with the Policy Guideline and it will also minimise any confusion among stakeholders that might result from the adoption of the proposed draft variations contained in this Proposal.

In addition it will maximise stakeholder input into any new options posed. Previous issues raised in response to Proposal P234 that are relevant will be taken into consideration in the new Proposal.



6. Regulatory Options

In the Draft Assessment phase of Proposal P234 two possible options were identified with respect to the criteria and conditions for making nutrition content and related claims.




  1. Adopt the proposed draft variations to Standard 1.2.8 - Nutrition Information Requirements contained in the Proposal; or

  2. Reject the proposed draft variations to Standard 1.2.8 - Nutrition Information Requirements contained in the Proposal.

Of the identified Options in the Draft Assessment phase, only Option 2 is consistent with the Policy Guideline developed by the Ministerial Council.



7. Impact Analysis




7.1 Affected Parties

Parties affected by the options outlined above include:




  1. consumers in Australia and New Zealand;

  2. industry, including Australian and New Zealand food manufacturers, processors and growers, exporters to Australia and New Zealand such as multi-national manufacturers and Australian and New Zealand importers;

  3. public health professionals in Australia and New Zealand; and

  4. Government agencies that regulate the food industry in Australia and New Zealand and those with an interest in food policy and regulation relevant to this Proposal.



7.2 Impact Analysis



Option 1 – adopt the proposed draft variations to Standard 1.2.8 - Nutrition Information Requirements contained in this Proposal.

Advantages





  • There will be an immediate updated suite of nutrition content and related claims and their criteria.



  • There will be consistency in the provision of nutrition content and related claims and their criteria between Australia and New Zealand, and with claims permitted by Codex.



  • Nutrition content and related claims will be applicable through imported food laws in Australia and New Zealand.



Disadvantages





  • Criteria and conditions for nutrition content and related claims will not have been developed having regard to the Ministerial Council’s Policy Guideline.



  • Criteria and conditions for nutrition content and related claims will be prescribed in Standard 1.2.8 - Nutrition Information Requirements when other health, nutrition and related claims will be regulated in other standards.



  • It is highly likely that FSANZ will have to later review nutrition content and related claims again in order to ensure that the criteria are consistent across the continuum of claims and that nutrition content claims are considered with regard to the Policy Guideline. Any changes will result in further revision of labels and marketing practices for the food industry.



  • The potential lack of consistency between nutrition content and related claims and the development of other standards having regard to the Policy Guideline could result in lower compliance by the food industry due to increased confusion. This could increase the likelihood of misleading information being provided to consumers.



  • There may be low compliance by the food industry with the knowledge that FSANZ will in all likelihood have to later review nutrition content and related claims having regard to the Policy Guideline.



  • The potential lack of consistency between nutrition content and related claims and the development of other standards having regard to the Policy Guideline could result in a greater burden on enforcement agencies.



  • There will be an increased need for government to educate industry and enforcement agencies on the proposed changes in order to allay any confusion that may result from a fractured approach to nutrition, health and related claims.



  • Certain claims and issues, such as qualifying and disqualifying criteria and disclaimers will not be investigated further, despite there still being disagreement amongst stakeholders.


Option 2 – reject the proposed draft variations to Standard 1.2.8 - Nutrition Information Requirements contained in this Proposal.

Advantages





  • The scope of Proposal P234 will be incorporated into a new Proposal, which will develop food standards having regard to the Policy Guideline.



  • It will reduce confusion amongst stakeholders that might otherwise arise from the adoption of the proposed draft variations contained in this Proposal.



  • Stakeholders will be able to consider nutrition content and related claims as part of a continuum with health and related claims.

  • There will be the opportunity for further consultation on contentious nutrition content and related claims and their criteria if Proposal P234 is incorporated into a new proposal.



Disadvantages





  • The regulatory measure arising from the finalisation of Proposal P234 will lead to nutrition content and related claims being inconsistent with the Policy Guideline.



  • A further review of nutrition content and related claims may be required to ensure consistency with food standards developed around nutrition, health and related claims, having regard to the Policy Guideline.



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