New food labelling regulations in South Africa

Below are the main changes that we can expect from the new food labelling regulations:

  • Specific claims, for example, ‘health’ claims such as ‘slimming’, ‘wholesome’, ‘cure’, ‘balanced’ or ‘complete nutrition’, are illegal on labels and advertisements.
  • Various misleading descriptions are prohibited on packaging and labels. These include words or images, marks, logos, or descriptions that create the impression that foods are endorsed by health practitioners, organisations, institutes, or foundations.
  • Specific words or phrases forbidden for nutrient claims are ‘rich in’, ‘excellent source’, ‘good source’, ‘enriched with X’, ‘with added X’, ‘X free’, or other words or symbols that imply health giving properties, or any other medicinal claim.
  • Statements to the effect of the contents of the product being fresh, natural, pure, traditional, original, authentic, real, genuine, homemade, farmhouse, handmade, selected, premium, finest, quality, best, or any other words or pictures which convey similar concepts are also prohibited, unless the products are compliant with United Kingdom Food Standards Agency (FSA) criteria.
  • ‘Low fat’ and ‘high fibre’ must comply with a set of regulations.
  • Fortified foodstuffs must comply with special regulations.
  • All food containing genetically modified ingredients must be labelled. Some hitches in this law are still to be ironed out.
  • All labels must contain a list of all the additives to the contents of foodstuffs (e.g., colorants, preservatives, herbs, spices, etc.).
  • Ingredients must all be listed in order of descending mass (not volume). The ingredient weighing the most will be listed first and the ingredient weighing the least will be listed last.
  • Common allergens that include gluten, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish or crustaceans, and major cereals (wheat, rye, barley, and oats), must be indicated on the label.
  • Mandatory information now required on food labels include the name and address of the manufacturer, importer or distributor, instructions for use, net content, country of origin, batch identification, use-by date, and nutrient analysis per 100g (or per 100ml of liquids).