JOINT FAO/WHO FOOD STANDARDS PROGRAMME
CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION
Twenty-Third Session, FAO Headquarters, Rome, 28 June -3 July 1999
Agenda Item 9
PROPOSED DRAFT AMENDMENT TO THE GUIDELINES ON
NUTRITION LABELING, ALINORM 99/22A, para. 59, Appendix VI
Comments of the
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CONSUMER FOOD ORGANIZATIONS
IACFO believes that nutrition labeling should be mandatory on all foods, regardless of whether a manufacture makes a nutrient claim, in countries that have a high incidence of diet-related chronic disease. Health authorities in some countries recommend that consumers eat a healthful diet to reduce their risk of disease. Consumers cannot easily follow such advice unless they are able to make informed decisions when selecting foods. The mandatory provision of nutrition information is thus essential.
However, because eating patterns and the prevalence and types of diet-related diseases vary from region to region, the nutrients to be listed should not be determined by an international standard. Instead, national authorities should take into account public health concerns and dietary patterns and require the disclosure of nutrients whose consumption or avoidance helps reduce the incidence of disease among its populace. For example, if osteoporosis is prevalent in a particular country, food labels should disclose calcium content. If heart disease is common, food labels should disclose fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, fibre, and sodium content.
Such matters cannot be determined by a single international standard. The Commissions activity should be limited to developing a standard that requires nutrition labeling on all foods, but that leaves the content of that label to national authorities.