Food Claims

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is the national body responsible for developing standards relating to the composition of foods, labelling, hygiene and production, food safety, premarket regulation requirements and nutrition standards. With such a large variety of products stocked on our shelves, it’s important to recognise that nutrient content claims and health claims are voluntary statements made by the manufacturer in order to help with promoting the product to consumers. 

New regulations set by FSANZ requires food businesses to provide scientific evidence to verify any health claims stated on labels and in any forms of advertisement. Additionally, health claims are only permitted on foods that meet a nutrient profiling scoring criterion (NPSC)[1].  This restricts manufacturers producing foods high in saturated fat, sugar or sodium from making health claims on their products.

Certain restrictions exist whereby health and nutrient content claims cannot be used to advertise the following:

  • Infant formula products (0-12 months)
  • Foods containing over 1.5% alcohol by volume
  • Foods claiming to be involved in the prevention, diagnosis, cure or alleviation of a disease, disorder or condition
  • Foods comparing vitamin or mineral content with another food.

Nutrient content claims, for example “low in fat”, or “good source of calcium” must meet certain criteria published by FSANZ, in order to meet the amounts of that nutrient to justify that statement[2]. Additionally, nutrient content claims can include statements about particular properties of that food, such as, stating that the food is high in gluten, or contains folic acid.

Health content claims can be divided into two sub groups as set by FSANZ; General level health claims and high level health claims.

General level health claims refer to a nutrient or substance in a food, or the food itself and its effect on health; for example, contains calcium for healthy bones and teeth [1]. Manufacturers cannot refer to disease such as ‘will decrease your risk of osteoporosis’. 

On the other hand, high level health claims refer to the nutrient, substance or the food itself and the relationship it has to a serious disease. For example, diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in people 65 years and over[3]. Like general level health claims, these relationships must be approved by FSANZ. Federal, state and territory agencies are in place to enforce the correct regulation of health claims to benefit the consumer.

[1] FSANZ, Nutrition content claims and health claims.

[2] Proposal P293 – Nutrition, Health & Related Claims Summary of submissions received in response to the Preliminary Final Assessment Report

[3] Substantiating health claims on food: systematic reviews and Australia’s new labelling standards. Cochrane Australia.

Special Thanks to Dietitian Kate DiPrima for her contributions to this article.

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