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New dairy regs

New SA dairy legislation will affect fat classification

New South African food legislation coming into effect in 2016 will see a reclassification of local dairy products and the introduction of a new medium fat class.

Regulation 260 (R260), announced by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), repeals regulation 2581 and aims to align local dairy products with international standards and codes of practice that contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of the international food trade.

The R260 legislation was drafted by the Department in close consultation with the dairy industry and other role players.

Parmalat SA (PSA) has announced that its former range of low fat yoghurts will, in line with the new legislation, in future be labelled as medium fat products.

Jompie Burger, MD of the Dairy Standards Agency (a non-profit organisation promoting the improvement and safety of the composition of dairy products) says that the “regulation of product labelling is designed to protect consumers, while ensuring fair competition within the industry. The old legislation dates back to 1987 and had to be revised to account for new technology and innovation, as well as accommodate changes in international health regulations.”

Five different class designations

One of the implications of R260 is that dairy products will now be categorised according to five different class designations: high fat, full fat, medium fat, low fat and fat free (skimmed).

For example, low-fat milk was previously classified as having a fat content of between 1.5% and 2.5%. Under the new legislation, milk with a fat content of between 1.5% and 3.3% will however be classified as “medium fat”. Another example is 2% milk that will no longer be classified as “low fat”.

The new R260 fat classification will be applied across all dairy products, including yoghurt and drinking yoghurt, as well as cheeses. The legislation will essentially lead to the reclassification of the majority of former “low fat” products to “medium fat”. 

André Mahoney, Parmalat SA’s marketing executive, says the company welcomes the new legislation: “R260 will empower consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and we support that wholeheartedly.

“We’re keen to ensure that our quality products continue to meet consumers’ needs and that our ranges are in line with legislation. “Parmalat has been working on introducing the yoghurt packaging changes for the past year to ensure we meet the DAFF’s March 2016 deadline and that we are in compliance.”

He explains that Parmalat’s Plain Low Fat, Flavoured Smooth Low Fat and Fruited Low Fat will be reclassified as medium fat under the new legislation.

“Consumers have consistently told us that they simply love Parmalat yoghurt’s creamy taste. We consequently decided not to make any changes to our winning recipe. So consumers can expect the same great taste and quality from Parmalat medium-fat yoghurt; our product remains exactly the same, it is simply classified differently.

“The on-pack label changes to medium fat, but it’s still the same creamy goodness inside. Parmalat’s Fabulite range also continues to be an option for consumers who want to enjoy fat free yoghurt. ”

Other changes

Apart from the technical updates, the R260 legislation will also comprise stricter labelling requirements for dairy and imitation dairy products: an ingredients list, “best by/use by/sell by” dates, and batch code indicators now become compulsory information that must be displayed on containers of dairy or imitation dairy products.

The changes bring R260 in line with the Labelling and Advertising Regulations under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972 that governs the labelling and advertising of foodstuffs in South Africa.

Class milk & yoghurt R2581 of 1987 R260 of 2016
High-fat At least 4,5% More than 4,5%
Full-fat At least 3,3% 3,3 – 4,5%
Medium-fat N/A 1,5 – 3,3%
Low-fat At least 1,5 but not more than 2,5% 0.5 –1,5%
Fat-free Not more than 0,5% Less than 0,5%















Source: Parmalat SA

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