There is a new law that has been signed into order by the government of New Zealand. It's designed to regulate what type of health benefits claims food packaging companies can include on labels.
Before this law, there was no regulation, and food manufacturers could essentially claim what they wanted of food labelling. This resulted in misleading information that could adversely affect the consumer. According to the Food Safety Minister of New Zealand, food companies that include benefits covered legally under the act will now be able to make the claims without any repercussion.
Currently, under the new law, more than 200 different food health claims are available for manufacturers. These claims include a variety of different things, like low in fat, high in calcium, reduces the risk of osteoporosis; can lower cholesterol, and more. Before a company can include any of this information on their labelling; however, they must get prior approval from the government.
Because the new law in New Zealand will have such a drastic impact on food manufacturers and can cost quite a bit of money, the government has set forth a three-year compliance plan. Essentially, all food companies have a total of three years during which they must come in full compliance with the laws. If they don't, then penalties can be enforced.
Before any company can make a health claim on their food products, whether imported or native to New Zealand, they must go through a strict process. They will also be required to show evidence that their product does live up to the claim completely. Any case that doesn’t show enough evidence will not be allowed on the labelling.
Consumers have a right to know what foods can do for them and what they can't. If a company is claiming that a food will help a consumer get healthy because it is said to be a low-fat product, but then is not, this misleading information could actually cause harm. That's why the Food Safety of Australia New Zealand and the New Zealand Food Safety Minister has made the decision to enforce this new law. In the next three years, consumers will start to see a difference in labelling, which means they can depend on the information they read to a higher degree. Under this law, if the food is labelled to be healthy, then it should do exactly what it says it can.