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Food standards code released

PROPOSED new food label requirements aim to reduce diet-related disease, assist allergy sufferers and inform consumers about what is in their food.

The proposed Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code has been released by the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Authority.

The code has been six years in the making.

ANZFA managing director Ian Lindenmayer said the proposed new food regulations would allow customers to know how much meat was in their meat pie.

The regulations will also provide allergy sufferers with warning information on foods known to contain common allergens such as peanuts.

“The proposed Code introduces a number of changes to food labels, including the requirement to identify all food containing those ingredients that cause most allergic reactions,” Mr Lindenmayer said.

People with food allergies or sensitivities have unusual immune reactions when they are exposed to some substances in food – usually specific proteins.

The foods that most frequently cause reactions include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts and soybeans.

These allergens are responsible for more than 90 per cent of reactions to foods.

However, the majority of foods do not cause any reaction to most people.

Much of Australia’s Food Standards Code was developed without a modern scientific understanding of allergies.

There is only a requirement to label the presence of peanuts, royal jelly and pollen products.

Foods with possible allergens must be listed as ingredients. However, not all ingredients need to be listed if they make up less than 25 per cent of the ingredients of a mixed food.

Mr Lindenmayer said according to the proposed standards, nearly all manufactured foods would carry a nutrition information panel giving information on the level of fats, protein, kilojoules, carbohydrates and sodium

“This will help consumers make healthier food choices,” he said.

“It will also be compulsory to show the percentage of the key ingredients in their food, as it will be compulsory to show the percentage of the defining or characterising ingredients in food, such as the apple in apple pie or the cocoa in chocolate.”

Mr Lindenmayer said the authority had recognised the need to make its standards practical to avoid imposing unnecessary costs on food manufacturers.

Australian and New Zealand health ministers will be considering the ANZFA code in November.

If it is accepted, it will be two years before it will be adopted.

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