South Africa Introduces New Regulation for Food Labeling
Delayed for one year to allow the industry extra time to revise their product labels in preparation, South Africa has now established new labeling regulations (R146) that applies to food manufacturers both nationally and internationally and is effective from March 1, 2012. The purpose of the legislation is to inform consumers about their purchasing decisions of food and to prevent the use of misleading or ambiguous food labels.
Recognizing from the latest scientific research and the international Codex guidelines that their existing food labeling regulations were outdated, the South African Department of Health (DoH) replaced regulation R2034 (1993) with new regulation R146. This followed an extensive process of debate, compilation and amendment in 2010 and the new regulations were originally intended to be effective from March 2011, but postponed until March 2012 to allow the industry enough time to make the changes.
Mandatory information now required on food labels include the name and address of the manufacturer, importer or distributor, instructions for use, net content, country of origin, batch identification, use by date, nutrient analysis per 100 g (or per 100 ml of liquids), a list of Ingredients and a list of any common allergens.
With regulation R146, the label must contain the contents of foodstuffs (e.g. colorants, preservative, herbs & spices, etc.) Ingredients must be listed in order of descending mass (not volume). The ingredient weighing the most will be listed first and the ingredient weighing the least will be listed last. Common allergens include gluten, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish or crustaceans, and major cereals (wheat, rye, barley, and oats).
Various misleading descriptions are prohibited on packaging and labels. These include words or images, marks, logo or descriptions that create the impression foods are endorsed by health practitioners, organizations, institutes or foundations. Exceptions to this rule include religious certification organizations, Fauna & Flora certifications, and organizations accredited under the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS). Further forbidden practices are individual endorsement or testimony implying a nutritional claim, an endorsement of the manufacturer or seller (by a logo, mark, symbol, written or verbal statement).
Specific words and phrases forbidden for nutrient claims are “rich in”, “excellent source”, “good source”, “enriched with X”, “with added X”, “X free” or similar wording, “nutritious”, “ healthy”, “wholesome”, “complete nutrition” or “balanced nutrition” or other words or symbols that imply health giving properties, the word “cure” or any other medicinal claim. Other misleading descriptions, e.g. “grain fed”, “Karoo lamb”, “natural lamb”, “country reared”, “free range”, “pure”, and “organic” are also banned. Statements to the effect of being fresh, natural, pure, traditional, original, authentic, real, genuine, homemade, farm house, handmade, selected, premium, finest, quality, best or any other words or pictures which convey similar concepts are also prohibited unless the products are compliant with United Kingdom Food Standards Agency (FSA) criteria.
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