New Food Code: Chicken fat Ice Cream?
Media Release Tip Top Icecream Company
New Zealand consumers could end up eating ‘ice cream’ made from chicken fat, following controversial new food standards unveiled this week.
The planned changes could also threaten New Zealand’s international reputation as a top producer of quality ice cream.
A new definition for the kiwi icon is contained in revised food labelling rules, which could become law later this year. The food reforms follow a six-year review by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority.
Under the new food standards code, New Zealand products defined as ‘ice cream’ are no longer required to contain a minimum 10 per cent milk fat.
The move has angered the ice cream industry throughout Australia and New Zealand. Industry leaders are questioning why a Standard of Identity has been retained for butter and cream, but not for ice cream.
New Zealand’s largest ice cream manufacturer, Tip Top Ice Cream, says the new code is bad news for consumer protection.
Chris Taylor, General Manager, Marketing says the new proposal removes an important benchmark between real ice cream and other frozen confectionary. He says the changes will only cause consumer confusion.
“The new code ignores the way New Zealand ice cream has traditionally been made,” says Mr Taylor. “Ice cream here must be made with a minimum level of milk fat of 10%. Milk fat is the essential component, which makes ice cream as we know it.
“But under the new standards, manufacturers could substitute milk fat for water, vegetable oil or even chicken fat. As long as they include a tiny token amount of ‘milk products’ they can label their product ‘ice cream’”.
Mr Taylor says New Zealand enjoys an international reputation as a high quality ice cream producing nation. Unscrupulous operators could weaken or undermine this reputation by switching to inferior ingredients like chicken fat.
“When consumers buy ice cream they want to know it is ice cream, and not clever flavouring.”
Low Fat Ice Cream
Tip Top Ice Cream is also warning consumers to be wary of planned changes as they apply to ‘low fat’ brands of ice cream.
Mr Taylor says manufacturers currently market low fat products containing no more than one-third the normal level of fat content. But under the new rules, manufacturers can decide for themselves what constitutes ‘low fat’.
“What one manufacturer might label “low fat’ or ‘lite’ might still be higher in fat content than many other (low fat) products on the market.”
The Australia New Zealand Food Authority has set the 17th of May as the deadline for final submissions on the new reforms.
Industry leaders in this country plan to work with the Australian Ice Cream Forum in opposition to the changes.
*Ice Cream consumption
New Zealanders are among the world’s biggest fans of ice cream, with an average consumption of 16 to 18 litres per head.
The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association says international research shows consumers turn away from ice cream in countries where the product has been allowed to have non-dairy fats.
Countries that maintain a high cream content in their ice cream have the greatest consumption per capita. (USA –22 litres per head, Australia – 19 litres per head, New Zealand – 18 litres per head, Demark – 12 litres per head).
The United Kingdom, the only EU Member State allowing the use of non-milk fat in product labelled ‘ice cream’ has a consumption of only 6 litres per head.