New Proposed Regulations for Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs – open for commentary

Published Date: February 14, 2023

New proposed Regulations for the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 have been published for commentary. Comments may be submitted by 30 April 2023.

The draft regulations are considerably more extensive and specific than the current regulations, as amended in 2012, and cover a broad range of issues relating to the labelling, advertising and even content of foodstuffs. The proposed new regulations appear to be an attempt to  address changes and developments in the market, particularly with the greater intersection and overlap between foodstuffs and complementary medicines, and the use of health claims and nutritional claims.

One of the notable developments is that the draft regulations propose further prohibitions on the words which may appear on labels and in advertisements for foodstuffs, including as a product name or trade mark for a foodstuff. At present, use of the words ‘health’ or ‘healthy’, ‘wholesome’ or ‘nutritious’ are prohibited. This has been expanded to also exclude use of the words ‘nutraceutical’ or ‘superfood’, ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’, or any other words, logos or pictorials with a similar meaning in any manner implying that the food is better or superior in any way. If this provision is enacted into law, it will have an impact on use of certain existing trade marks and new trade mark applications.

Another notable development that appears to have been spurred on by the recent attempts to address and seize plant-based meat alternatives being sold using terms such as ‘burger’, ‘nugget’ and ‘sausage’ (which is an issue currently before the courts), is an addition to the prohibition on misleading statements. Proposed Regulation 42(2)(b) prohibits statements which are false, misleading or deceptive or create an erroneous impression regarding the contents of the container or its character, origin, composition, quality, nutritive value, nature or other properties.

Source: Notice No. R 2986 published in GG no. 47965 of 31 January 2023

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