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Joint Food Standards Code in time for Christmas

Joint Food Standards Code in time for Christmas

Food Safety Minister Annette King says the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code comes into full effect tomorrow, just in time for Christmas.

“These are very important regulations and they have been a long time coming,” Ms King said.

“Our eating habits have become more sophisticated over the past 20 years but we have seen little change in our food regulations. When better to introduce new regulations than at Christmas, a time when food plays a huge role helping to bring friends, families and loved ones together.”

Ms King said one of the main purposes of the code is to provide consumers with more information about what’s in the food they eat, while at the same time minimising regulations for manufacturers and producers.

“The balancing act between protecting public health and safety and minimising regulatory requirements can be difficult. But the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code does just that, bringing our food regulations into the 21st century. “While the code will make trans-Tasman trade easier, the biggest beneficiaries are consumers, who can now make more informed choices about the food they eat because the Code requires comprehensive labelling on most foods.

“Manufacturers are required to provide Nutrition Information Panels on their products outlining the amount of energy (kilojoules), protein, total fat, saturated fat, total carbohydrates, sugars and sodium. This improved labelling will support the National Dietary Guidelines.

“For consumers with allergies to common foods like nuts, seafood, fish, milk, gluten, eggs and soybeans, the news is even better. Under the code manufacturers are required to declare on labels whether their product contains these items regardless of how little the amount. This is a major breakthrough.”

Ms King said the code also defines the difference between ‘use-by’ and ‘best before’ dates. Use-by dates are to be used where there are health and safety concerns, and food must not be sold after the use-by date has expired. Best before dates reflect the last date on which food is expected to retain maximum quality, but where there are no health and safety concerns.

Manufacturers have had two years to get used to the code’s new requirements so most foods should be compliant. “However, there is a grace period where foods packaged and produced lawfully prior to December 20 can be sold for a further 12 or 24 months depending on the length of the shelf life of the product.

“Food safety is vital to the health and economy of this country and these improved food standards will not only enhance public health and safety but reinforce New Zealand’s position as a trusted supplier of food,” Ms King said.

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