FSANZ calls for submissions on carb claims

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is calling for commen​t on a proposal to clarify the requirements for making nutrition content claims about carbohydrate and sugar on alcoholic beverages.

Standard 1.2.7 in the Code currently permits voluntary claims about carbohydrate content to be made on alcoholic beverages, however, it says the Code lacks clarity around sugar content claims.

FSANZ said it is proposing to amend the standard to clarify the permitted extent of carbohydrate and sugar claims on food containing more than 1.15% alcohol by volume.

“The proposed amendment is intended to support consumers to make informed choices and provide clarity and certainty for enforcement agencies and industry,” the agency said.

In its call for submissions FSANZ said it had considered alcohol consumption data and the prevalence of carbohydrate and sugar claims about alcoholic beverages in the marketplace.

“We undertook a rapid systematic review to examine the available evidence on consumer value, perceptions and behaviours in response to carbohydrate and sugar claims,” the call for submission noted.

“FSANZ’s assessment has considered the best available evidence, stakeholder input, relevant Ministerial Policy Guidelines and an analysis of the costs and benefits of the proposed changes.”

The call for submissions​ provides a summary of FSANZ’s assessment and includes draft amendments to the Code. Interested parties are invited to comment on the proposed amendments.

Submissions close at 6pm (Canberra time) 4 September 2023.

FSANZ is separately considering a proposal to require energy content information on the label of alcoholic beverages under Proposal P1059.

In its proposal document, the food standards regulator says consumers have a poor understanding of the energy content of alcoholic beverages and do not understand alcohol is the main source of energy in most alcoholic beverages.

The body is proposing to amend the Code to require the mandatory provision of energy content information on beverages containing alcohol in a prescribed format.

The brewers associations in Australia and New Zealand are following the proposals closely, with New Zealand’s Brewers Guild executive director Melanie Kees calling on brewers to make submissions also.

“There are more and more small breweries who are producing beers that make claims – i.e. low carb so it is in their best interests to understand the implications that these changes may mean to their business and to have a say,” she told Brews News.

“Everyone is concerned with regulatory changes, not only due to the potential cost to their businesses but there is also some concern around information overload or crowding the space, which could confuse customers and dilute information that is important.”

Dylan Firth, Executive Director of the Brewers Association of New Zealand said his association would also be making a submission.

“While we have only just received the call for submissions and need to spend some time looking over the proposal and details, we see that the continued ability to make claims has been proposed, something that in broad terms we support,” he said.

“We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal and will do so in detail over the coming weeks.”

The Independent Brewers Association will also be making a submission.

Brewers wanting to read the proposals and make contact can find details on the FSANZ website.

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