There certainly is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition;consideration needs to be given to allergies, intolerances, nutrient requirements, as well as a host of social, cultural and personal factors.
If it wasn’t hard enough negotiating these elements in deciding what is ‘best’ for you and your family, there is a plethora of information (much of it conflicting) available to flounder your way through. Quiet clearly this can be very overwhelming and a big stumbling block in your journey to a healthy lifestyle.
Fortunately in Australia and New Zealand there is a governing body, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), which regulates food production, labelling, hygiene, agricultural residue, food surveillance and recalls. Specifically FSANZ oversees the development and administer of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code), which details the requirements of foods in terms of additives, labelling and Genetically Modified foods. Having this code enforced assures the quality and standard of products produced, imported and sold in Australia.
elements which will assist you navigate your way through this nutrition and information minefield. Remember, much of the information available on the internet is sourced from America (or sourced from a source from America), and doesn’t necessarily reflect the standards of Australia and New Zealand.
All ingredients, including additives, must be listed in descending order (the largest by weight first, with the exception of flavourings and added water).
Additives can only be added to food in order to achieve an identified technological function according to Good Manufacturing Practice, such as extend shelf life, improved taste or appearance.
Although some additives are known to cause adverse reactions in people who are
sensitive, all additives undergo a safety assessment before being approved
for use in Australia and New Zealand and are considered safe for the general
Currently the only Genetically Modified produce approved in Australia is soybean, canola, corn, potato, sugarbeet, cotton, wheat, rice and Lucerne (hay).
Recent changes to the code around ‘Health claims’ ensures that claims made by manufactures on packaging are substantiated by scientific evidence and contain the relevant nutrient profile to make such a claim, for example “calcium is good for bones and teeth,” can be claimed when a product
contains 200mg of calcium or more per serve – However this standard does not apply to companies or spokes people making claims about products on blogs, forums, articles, or from overseas sources.
Claims such as “Light,” “Lite,” “Reduced” or “Increase” refer to a products nutritional profile in comparison to other similar products, e.g. a product may have reduced salt compared with
another product but still be high in salt overall.
Nutrition information panels (NIPs) must display nutrient information about a product per serve (first column) as well as per 100g (second column). Serving sizes must be described and the number of servings per pack detailed. All of this information is relevant when choosing products, but remember when comparing products to always look at per 100g as this is standardised while serving sizes differ.
Better Health Channel: Food additives
Better Health Channel: Genetically Modified Foods
Better Health Channel: Food Labels Explained