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New requirements for food supplements and the nutrition and health claims made about food

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Friday 17 January 2014

In February, the States will be asked to approve two new Ordinances that will introduce requirements in Guernsey for the labelling and composition of food supplements, nutritional labelling of food and health claims made about food through labelling and advertising.

The original States Report in May 2011 resulted in the drafting of this legislation, which will bring Guernsey in line with EU jurisdictions and will ensure the continuation of inter community trade in food goods between Guernsey, the EU and other jurisdictions.

During the development of the Ordinances, HSSD consulted with key stakeholders and has taken account of the issues raised by local health professionals, local traders, manufacturers, importers and exporters.

The Ordinance about nutritional information and health claims is applied to pre-packaged foods only. This includes the composition of food, ingredients and nutritional information and will include terms used such as 'low fat, 'low salt', 'high energy' which make a health claim about the food. Such claims are intended to assist the consumer in making choices about the food they buy and therefore they must be true and accurate.

Advertising and labelling of food is a mechanism to provide information to the public to allow consumer choice and confidence that the product they have bought contains the ingredients they want.

Recent research indicates that 60% of adults are overweight or obese and so radical reforms to food law are required to reduce the levels of salt, fat and sugar in the diet, whilst maintaining consumer confidence and consumer choice. Therefore nutritional information on packaging is an important way of providing information to the consumer and this must be correct and not misleading for commercial advantage.

The Ordinance about food supplements will introduce measures about the labelling and advertising of foods containing food supplements e.g. vitamins and minerals that are eaten to supplement, enhance or enrich the diet. The new Ordinance is intended to ensure that any food within the definition of a 'food supplement' is properly labelled as such and that the label states the correct dose of the vitamin or mineral.

It should be noted that 'food supplements' are not 'medicinal products', which are prescribed to remedy or treat medical conditions or ill health and such products fall within the terms of the Medicines (Human and Veterinary)(Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2008).

If the States approves the legislation, the new provisions will come into force on 1 April 2014 for imports and exports. The provisions for local manufacturers selling locally will come into force two years later on 1 April 2016.

It is anticipated that there will be little impact on local traders as the majority of packaged products sold in Guernsey are imported from EU jurisdictions where the legislation has been in force for some time. Local manufacturers who export to the EU are already in compliance with the requirements of the jurisdictions they export to.

HSSD will be focusing on traders that are involved in internet sales where their products are procured from and packaged in third jurisdictions and marketed via Guernsey based businesses either locally, in Jersey or in the EU.

As the legislation is complex, HSSD will be providing written guidance for local traders prior to implementation.

Similar legislation will be implemented in Alderney and Sark and also in parallel with the States of Jersey.

-ENDS-

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