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Food labelling deadline looms

21 August 2002 Media Statement

Food labelling deadline looms


Food Safety Minister Annette King says New Zealand food manufacturers only have four months left to finalise food-labelling changes on their products.

New, comprehensive labels must appear on packaged foods made on or after 20 December 2002, and while “the vast majority” of food businesses are likely to be compliant, Ms King is concerned some small to medium sized businesses are lagging behind, despite being given two years to make the changes.

“I strongly urge those remaining food businesses that aren’t ready to seek advice from the New Zealand Food Safety Authority or Food Standards Australia New Zealand as soon as possible and make the changes. Professional and food industry organisations must also remind their members of the need to make the labelling changes.

“A number of these labelling changes have major public health implications. Diet-related risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, account for 13 percent of New Zealand’s and Australia’s burden of disease, costing the health systems $32 million to $42 million a year.”

She said the changes had been well publicised, and a range of helpful material, including a nutrition panel calculator and a toll-free advice line, had been produced.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Ministerial Council decided in May this year not to extend the labelling deadline, but it agreed to allow products made before 20 December to remain on supermarket shelves until used up – for up to 12 months for most products, and 24 months for long life products.

“FSANZ research shows that consumers value the new information available on labels and I am sure that they will use it to shop smart and make healthy and informed food choices,” Ms King said.

The new labels must include, where appropriate, such information as nutritional components, new date markings and full disclosure of major allergens.

Information about the labelling changes is available either through a link from the Food Standards Authority website (www.nzfsa.govt.nz) to the FSANZ website (www.foodstandards.govt.nz) by calling 0800 441 571, or by emailing advice@foodstandards.gov.au


ENDS

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