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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 08:46 GMT
Food claims 'must be honest'
Food
Food must be truthfully labelled
A code of practice has been launched to ensure that health claims on food are truthful and helpful to shoppers.

The code has been backed by consumer groups, the food industry and regulators, including Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency.

It is designed to stop manufactures making health claims that they cannot substantiate.

The code, drawn up by the Joint Health Claims Initiative, spells out general principles that food companies must follow, and the scientific evidence that must be provided to back up any claim.

Sir John Krebs
Sir John Krebs supports the code of practice
It also sets out what information must be made available to consumers.

Roger Manley, JHCI chairman and deputy chairman of the Food Advisory Committee, said: "From now on, food manufacturers will have the scope to give useful and accurate information about their products - information which consumers can trust - without being commercially disadvantaged by the over-hyped claims of unscrupulous traders."

Jeanette Longfield, of the consumer umbrella group Sustain, welcomed the new code.

She said: "We are confident that the JHCI is an important step down the road towards high industry standards and effective consumer protection."

'Legal minefield'

Michael Mackenzie, director-general of the Food and Drink Federation which represents the food and drink manufacturing industry, said the code would help to clarify the "legal minefield" surrounding health claims.

John Ryan, chairman of the Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards (Lacots) said the code would help those who enforce food law by ensuring that new health claims were only approved after rigorous examination.

At present, the code concentrates on general claims.

However, the panel of health experts which drew it up will also be asked to pronounce on specific claims made individual products on a case by case basis.

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See also:

06 Jul 00 | Health
'Energising' drink label banned
01 Sep 00 | Health
Organic food 'no healthier'
06 Oct 99 | Medical notes
Food additives
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