New regulations on labelling and advertising of foods were recently
introduced as part of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act,
which was implemented on March 1 2012. They aim to create a specific
standard for informing consumers about the ingredients in foodstuffs.
All labels and advertising will have to be presented in the same
format, which will hopefully stop misleading claims. For example, the
regulations will curb statements relating to sugar where manufacturers
label a product as "no sugar added" but it still contains sugars – just
not in the form of added table sugar. This statement alone has caused
considerable confusion amongst consumers, who often interpret the
statement as meaning the product is sugar free.
This is also intended to make it easier for consumers to compare
different products and the new labelling will make it easier for
consumers to identify nutritional information of products as well as
Broadly, the regulations state that food labels and adverts may no
longer contain items on their labels that create the impression that the
food is endorsed by a health practitioner, or manufactured by or in
accordance with recommendations by an organisation, or in some way
However, many manufacturers are expressing frustration with the new
laws. This includes the nutritional information format, specifically the
inclusion of a dietary fibre method of analysis and the scientific
determination of serving size, which cannot simply be the capacity of
the packaging. In addition, many products need to accommodate other
legislation, such as the Department of Agriculture, Forests and
Manufacturers are also finding ingredient statements and the
requirements they need to meet confusing, as well as what claims can be
made about foodstuffs and what criteria need to be taken into account
when using words such as 'pure', 'natural', 'hand-made', 'fresh',
'original' 'finest' and so forth.
Furthermore, in the past two similar products may have differentiated
themselves by focusing on different strengths inherent in both
products. This can no longer be done. A product may not tout the fact
that, for instance, additional nutritional elements have been added to
it. Consumers will actively have to compare products to see which is
higher in content of the nutritional ingredients they want.
This also means that manufacturers of a product such as milk will no
longer be able to claim that it may strengthen bones, but may simply
state that it naturally contains calcium. Manufacturers will also not be
able to disclose whether a product contains microorganisms or compounds
such as probiotics.
Additionally, from the manufacturers point of view, it will not be
compulsory for food manufacturers to publish a typical nutritional
information table and for those that do, they must be able to
substantiate any labelling info within 48 hours of being requested to do
so, which may lead to manufacturers leaving off important information
regarding their ingredients.
The regulations are however a step in the right direction towards
creating a better and healthier purchasing environment for consumers.
Even though the regulations will undoubtedly cause some confusion and
frustration initially, the right legal advice should make it easier.
Spoor & Fisher Jersey
Africa House, Castle Street
St Helier, Jersey JE4 9TW
Tel: +44 1534 838000
Fax: +44 1534 838001