“The ultimate protection of the consumer is of great importance to us as is to the South African government,” said Yolandé van der Riet from the Food Safety Initiative (FSI) division of the Consumers Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) at Sampa’s annual general meeting last year. She said the department of health published new regulations pertaining to labelling and advertising of foodstuffs (Regulation 146/2010).
These regulations came into effect on 1 March 2012. The intention of the regulations are to close loopholes and to strengthen the efficiency of food labelling.
“The consumer will now have access to more accurate labelling.”
Food manufacturers can expect the following:
• An extended list of definitions, which includes various new concepts.
• Date marking will now be law for the majority of foodstuffs in SA.
• “Best before/use by/sell by” – will all have different definitions and applications.
• The format and order of date markings are stipulated.
• A physical address will be compulsory as part of the contact details.
• Batch identification is now compulsory.
• A batch should not exceed 24 hours.
• The country of origin is now a mandatory labelling requirement.
• All ingredients, additives and allergens should be declared in the appropriate manner, as per R146 prescriptions.
• Nutrient content claims will be strictly controlled.
• Health/curative/restorative/medicinal/prophylactic/medicinal claims on foodstuffs are prohibited; and have been prohibited on foodstuffs since 1993.
Van der Riet said the new regulations also have very strict requirements pertaining to aspects such as prohibited statements, misleading statements, allergens, pictorial representation, storage instructions, product names and descriptions, declaration of fat and oils, comparative claims, negative claims, the nutritional information table, and nutrient reference values.
“If something is not allowed on the label, it is also not allowed in advertising, and vice versa,” she said.
Van der Riet reminded processors that they should be prepared to substantiate any information on labels within 48 hours. It is imperative to ensure that every word, picture and logo has true meaning to the consumer.
This presentation was given prior to publication of the new draft food labelling regulations, R429 of 2014. Note however, that R146 is still legally in force until being formally replaced by new regulations. Therefore, everything within this article still remains as is.