Food labels

Changes to new labelling regulations

The much-debated, long-awaited new food labelling regulations (R146) finally appeared in the Government Gazette in March this year. Despite lengthy, if not excruciating, public consultation and expert input over 12 years, their final garb still drew much irritation from several unhappy sectors of the industry, and now several welcome changes have been officially announced.

The Dept of Health, Directorate: Food Control, to its credit, always maintained that the regulations were never cast in stone and that they would always be open to changes and updates if warranted. The first set of formal changes have now been made.

The most important aspect of the changes set out in R1091 of 19th November 2010 is a big breather for the industry: the new regulations will now only come into effect in 1 March 2012, a year later than originally specified.

According to Dries Pretorius, director of the Directorate: Food Control this is as a result of “written motivation received from several mainstream manufacturers and retailers whom, although fully committed regarding the implementation of the new requirements, provided details of the technical and logistical challenges they are encountering to fully comply by 1 March 2011”.

Click here for the gazetted amendments

Translating the new amendments

If only legislators and lawyers could communicate in plain language! The gazetted amendments are not exactly user friendly, so here labelling/health-nutrition-communication fundi, Jane Badham, wearing her hat as a member of Consultants in Food Labelling, deciphers them and trusts that this will help you make sense of the changes to this landmark legislation that’s set to demand the overhaul of virtually every food label in the land.

The key changes of R1091 – below is some clarity on the impact of these changes to the food industry. The amendments include welcome additions or deletions to R146.

1. Identification [Reg 9(b)]

As was expected, the name and address of the manufacturer of imported foods need not appear on the label. What is required on the label of these foods is the name and physical address for either the manufacturer or the importer or the seller.

2. Country of Origin [Reg 10]

There is a sensible addition of an option for single ingredient, imported, bulk, agricultural commodities where the country of origin may change due to climatic, seasonal or other contingencies. The exact wording for the new option (d) is as follows:

“Product of (name(s) of country(ies)) separated by the expression ‘and/or’, in cases where more than one country may be the source of the single ingredient agricultural commodity, shall be declared on the label of the final re-packed foodstuff; provided that the final end product remains a single ingredient agricultural commodity”.

3. Prohibited statements [Reg 13(a)(ii)]

The section regarding support / endorsement / compliance with / manufactured in accordance with recommendations by organisations, associations, foundations and other entities has been expanded to include permission for “organisations accredited by SANAS to certify certain quality aspects of foods and the safety thereof”. This in effect will allow for HACCP, ISO or similar certifications to be labelled.  

4. Compound Ingredients [Reg 27]

For the purposes of ingredient declarations, flavourings have been excluded from mandatory mention in compound ingredients. This is because of references already made to the labelling of flavourings in regulations 21, 23 and 36(3).

5. Additive Carry-over [Reg 41]

This regulation has been sensibly changed to provide further clarity for the labelling of additives which are carried over as constituents of an ingredient or raw material into the final product. The Codex Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods (Codex STAN 1-1985) is referred to and this distinguishes the need for labelling such carry-over additives by their ability to perform a technological function in that food as follows:

• If the additive carried over into the food being labelled is in a sufficient enough quantity to perform a technological function in that food, then it must be included in the list of ingredients.
• If the additive carried over into the food being labelled is at a level less than that required to achieve a technological function, then it need NOT be included in the list of ingredients UNLESS it contains any common allergens or sulphite in concentrations equal to or greater than 10mg/kg. Processing aids1 are also exempt from such labelling.

6. Footer information under Nutritional Information table [Reg  50(4)(a) and 13(b)]
The source of data that was used to provide the information contained in the nutritional information table when no claim is made and is provided voluntarily, is no longer required.

7. Corrections to Incorrect Numbering [Reg 52(15) and 54(3)]

8. Commencement Date [Reg 56]
The enforcement date of R146 has been extended by an additional year to 1 March 2012. There is also an additional change to this regulation that further clarifies that the date of manufacture will be considered the date from which full compliance is applicable. This means that for products with a long shelf-life, as long as they are manufactured prior to 1 March 2012, they will need to comply only at the end of their shelf-life. In addition it means that no products manufactured prior to 1 March 2012 that are non compliant will need to be pulled from the distribution channel.

1Processing aid means a substance or material, not including apparatus or utensils, and not consumed as a food ingredient by itself, intentionally used in the processing of raw materials, foods or its ingredients, to fulfil a certain technological purpose during treatment or processing and which may result in the non-intentional but unavoidable presence of residues or derivatives in the final product.

For more information on the regulations relating to the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs (R146 and R1091) and how these impact on your business contact Consultants in Food Labelling on [email protected], or

Jane Badham of JB Consultancy on [email protected] or 082 562 7755

Moira Byers of Chille Food Consutlants on [email protected] or 082 804 9115

Nigel Sunley of Sunley Consulting on [email protected] or 082 453 3125 or

For more on Consultants in Food Labelling and the services and expertise they offer, click here