Labelling claims under ACCC watch for 2020. Are yours compliant?

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) have released their 2020 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities list, and food products are in the spotlight. ‘Misleading conduct in relation to the sale and promotion of food products, including health and nutritional claims, credence claims and country of origin’ will be a focus for the ACCC this year.

As health-related issues are prominent in our community and consumers are looking for products to assist in these issues, it is imperative that the claims made on products are not misleading or deceptive, as this delivers a false promise and often at a higher price point.

Recently a high profile company was fined A$2.25m for making a misleading health claim on a popular childrens snack product. Whilst this product met Food Standards Code (FSC) compliance regulations, the overall impression of the finished packaging was deemed misleading and deceptive
by Australian Consumer Law (ACL) as it gave the impression that the product was a healthy choice for children, despite the high sugar content, which was provided on pack.

Do you know if the product claims you are making are compliant with the FSC and ACL?

Credence claims and country of origin claims are also a focus of the ACCC in 2020, ensuring the new standards released in 2016 are met. The purpose of the new Country of Origin laws were created to provide the consumer with a transparent indication of which country the product came from.

The main area of confusion around the new requirements has been determining what is ‘substantial transformation’ relative to a particular product or category, whether a process is considered to be substantially transforming the product, and in the case of multiple countries contributing raw materials and processes to a product, what statement accurately reflects the country that has had most impact/contact to produce the product.

Like the health and nutrition claims, country of origin and credence claims can also be used as a marketing tool to promote the value of a product. For example, highlighting that a product is a ‘Product of Australia’ can be seen as desirable for the Australian community wishing to support Australian companies and manufacturing.

Likewise, a product claiming it is ‘beef sourced from King Island’ is a premium credential that consumers would likely pay more for. Food recalls due to labelling errors account for a substantial amount of Australias total recalls per year. As recalls can cost into the millions, not to mention significant brand damage, enlisting the services of an external specialist in label compliance should be considered an insurance policy for all the hard work and money invested into the NPD process!

Merieux NutriSciences Australia has been working for decades with local and international businesses to ensure labels are compliant both with the FSC and ACL. Their team of specialists work across both food and non-food categories. Whether it be a legality review of ingredients, consulting
on possible claims suitable for a product, or a complete label review, they have services to suit.

Complementary to label compliance, Merieux NutriSciences also have laboratory testing services including nutritional analysis, allergen testing, claim verification such as antibacterial claims, and on-site food safety auditing and certification services.

Contact us via sales.au@mxns.com, or by calling 1300 000 990. Visit our website for more information at www.merieuxnutrisciences.com/au. Our offices and laboratories are conveniently located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

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