The Department of Health on Thursday launched new draft food labelling regulations in order to instil a healthy lifestyle amongst South African citizens.
Although these regulations cannot be enforced just yet, it gives food manufactures and consumers a taste of what's to come.
Spokesman Sibani Mngadi said the regulations aimed to improve public health through healthy food choices and improved nutrition.
"As the health literacy rate of our population increases, so does the importance of food labelling and the role that it can play in assisting consumers with reliable label information to make informed choices about healthier food options.
"Healthier food choices are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle," Mngadi said.
The regulations made provision for an extensive list of new and amended definitions, mandatory date markings on most foods, as well as the indication of the country of origin and batch identification.
"The use of health and nutrition claims prohibited that identified foods, which are not regarded as essential for a healthy lifestyle, cannot be advertised to children and on school premises," said Mngadi.
Foodstuffs not considered essential for a healthy diet - and for which no nutrient content, GI, certain comparative, health, slimming or any other claim with a health or nutritional message will be permitted - include:
- Carbonated or uncarbonated soft drinks intended to be consumed cold, which contain sweetener(s) and additives in any form (e.g. powders or concentrates)
- Fruit nectars
- Soft drinks bearing the word “energy” or “sport” or “power” in any way on the label, with or without caffeine
- Iced teas in any form (e.g. powders, concentrates or ready-to-drink type), which contain sweetener(s) and additives
- Powders to prepare hot or cold beverages for which any one or more of the following criteria apply:
- Contain more than 10g sugar per single serving
- Contain fully or partially hydrogenated fat
- Contain any non-nutritive sweetener(s)
- Contain any artificial colourant(s)
Sweet biscuits and flour confectionary
- All sweet, dry biscuits, unless:
- the biscuit has been specifically developed and formulated for the purpose of preventing or correcting a demonstrated nutrient deficiency as recognised by the Department;
- the impact of the special biscuit on the target population/group has been scientifically evaluated by at least one human intervention trial;
- written proof of the outcome has been published in an acceptable medical or nutrition journal or reported at a national nutrition congress; and
- a request for approval accompanied by the above-mentioned documentation has been granted by the Directorate: Food Control prior to retail market appearance
- All cakes
- Other sweet flour confectionary such as muffins, doughnuts, sweet pastries and others, unless the product is high in fibre and has a low Glycaemic Index value
- Sweet tarts
Candies and chocolate confectionary
- All chocolate confectionary
- All sugar confectionary, including toffees
- Chewing gum
Any fast food meal of which any one or more of the following criteria apply:
- which contains any trans fats;
- of which the main carbohydrate component of the meal (e.g., bread bun of a hamburger) has a high Glycaemic Index value;
- has a fibre content of less than 3g per 100g end product;
- has a salt content of 1,25g salt per 100g end product or more; and
- has a saturated fat content of more than 5g per 100g end product
- which has been prepared/cooked in a vegetable oil that has been subjected to any of the following processes: any form of heat treatment, degumming, refining, bleaching and deodorising
- Ready-to-eat savoury snacks such as potato crisps, extruded or expanded maize snacks etc.
- Ready-to-eat dips or dip powders intended to be reconstituted with a fat content of more than 3g per 100g
- Baked type desserts, with a fat content of more than 10g per 100g and a sugar content of more than 15g per 100g
- Chilled, ready-to-eat desserts
- Ice cream, frozen yoghurt, frozen desserts, frozen treats, sorbets, edible ices and any other similar product containing more than 20g per 100g carbohydrates and/or more than 3g total fat per 100g
- Instant dessert powders
- Any vegetable oil that has been subjected to any of the following processes: any heat treatment, de-gumming, refining, bleaching and deodorising, and packed in see-through plastic containers
- Commercially prepared meat pies and sausage rolls and pies wit a savoury filling
- Dry soup powders
- Flavoured fat spreads or margarine
- Spreads, toppings, glazes or filling sold as such for cakes, desserts and tarts
- “Health” bars, breakfast bars, seed bars or energy bars with a sugar content more than 10g per bar, a saturated fat content of more than 1g per 100g or any trans fat
- Fruit bars, fruit roles or fruit flakes with any added sugar, non-nutritive sweeteners and/or added fat
- Margarines and fat spreads containing any hydrogenated or interesterified plant oil
- Manufactured meat products, unless at least compliant with the condition for lean/trim and low in sodium
- Non-nutritive table sweeteners
- Ready-to-eat candy breakfast cereals with a sugar content of 15g or more per 100g
- Sugar (white, yellow, brown), castor sugar, icing sugar, et cetera.
- Sweetened, condensed milk
- Syrups, excluding molasses
- Tea creamers and coffee creamers
- Foodstuffs (solids and liquids) sweetened with added fructose
The Department of Health urges all role-players, including manufacturers and consumer groups and the general public, to consider these regulations and to submit their input to the Department.
For more information, call Charity Bhengu on 083 679 7424. Click here for the full document.
– (SAPA, Health24, July 2007)
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