ANZ Food Standards Code
The ANZFSC sets out specific criteria, which nutrition and health claims need to comply with. These are voluntary statements made by food businesses on labels and in advertising about a food.
Broadly speaking, the new standard defines two main types of claims: nutrition content claims and health claims.
Nutrition content claims
These are claims about the content of certain nutrients or substances in a food, such as ‘low in sugar’ or ‘good source of protein’. They need to meet certain criteria set out in the Code. For example, with a ‘good source of protein’ claim, the food needs to contain at least 10 grams of protein per serving.
Health claims are different to nutrition content claims, in that they refer to a relationship between a food and health, rather than a statement of content. The ANZFSC defines two types of health claims: general level health claims and high level health claims.
General level health claims refer to a nutrient or substance in a food and its effect on a health function. For example: "Selenium is necessary for normal immune system function".
High level health claims seek to link a nutrient or substance in a food to a serious disease or to a biomarker of a serious disease. For example: "Diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in people 65 years and over".
Making claims for your product
The first thing to check is what category of claim you are seeking to make and determine whether you are permitted to make that type of claim for your particular product. (For example, you can't make health claims about products that are too high in saturated fat, sugar or salt.) Then you need to ensure that your product complies with the specific criteria for the claim that you are making. There are more than 200 pre-approved food-health relationships that you can base your claims on. You can also self-substantiate a general or high level health claim that is not already pre-approved, but be aware that this is not a trivial exercise. All health claims, be they pre-approved or self-substantiated need to be supported by rigorous scientific evidence.
What constitutes a claim may surprise you. For example, in many circumstances simply voluntarily including an item in the Nutrition Information Panel on your label makes this into a nutrition content claim ... which must then meet the specified claim requirements set out in the Code. In other cases, there are prohibitions on making certain sorts of claims. For example, under certain circumstances you can use the descriptor "diet" ... but you cannot combine that with another descriptor that directly or indirectly implies slimming effects.