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The Australian National University

Unlocking the Energy of the Amazon? The Need for a Food Fraud Policy Approach to the Regulation of Anti-Ageing Health Claims on Superfood Labelling

10.22145/flr.44.3.4
Janine Curll, Christine Parker, Casimir MacGregor and Alan Petersen (2016) 44 (3)

The prevention and control of ‘food fraud’, including false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain, is now emerging as an important and discrete policy goal for governments and regulators in the interface between food and public health. The control and prevention of food fraud complements regulation to ensure microbial food safety. This article uses a case study of anti-ageing claims made in the labelling and advertising of açai berry superfood products to argue that Australia’s new regulatory system for nutrient content and health claims on food (Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code standard 1.2.7) inadequately addresses ‘food fraud’. This article argues that the over-reaching claims on açai product labelling will potentially mislead consumers and subvert public health messages in a context of ‘gastro-anomy’ (confusion over appropriate norms for eating) and ‘healthism’ (individual responsibility for making healthy choices). This conduct can usefully be conceptualised as food fraud. Second, the article argues that although the substance of Standard 1.2.7 is well designed to avoid food fraud, the fact that the standard allows food businesses to self-substantiate evidence when making some health claims undermines the protection offered. Australian food regulators need to articulate a more strategic and proactive approach to the prevention and control of food fraud.

Vol 44, Issue 3, 2016

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