Food and nutrition policy-makers looking towards global trends to promote healthier diets within their countries must remain aware of different national sensitivities, an industry consultant has said.
Speaking at a seminar in Singapore on the implications of a global nutrition and health policy last month, EAS Food Law Advisor Guy Valkenborg said that to guarantee the highest rate of success regulators must take into account the national differences across the world and implement policies based on an assessment of a variety of measures.
“The point is not to take a quick look at what other countries have done and then follow their lead,” said Mr Valkenborg. “All available solutions must be taken into account and the effectiveness of these measures evaluated.”
Mr Valkenborg highlighted a number of global trends in nutrition and health policy, including the UK’s traffic light labelling system which is currently being considered for implementation in Korea and Thailand.
The system, which has recently been criticised by EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou as “over- simplification”, uses red, amber and green markings on food products to highlight their content of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. A red light indicates that the product is high in one of these nutrients, amber indicates neither high nor low, and green means that the food is low in the specific nutrient. The aim is to help consumers choose a healthy diet – the more green lights, the healthier the choice.
Commenting on the system, Mr Valkenborg said: “Not all parts of the world devote the same importance to labels in relation to food. If for example, it is known that in Singapore most people eat at food halls, then the demonstration of labelling there should be looked at differently to that of, for example, the UK.”
The seminar was hosted by international food and nutrition policy consultancy EAS, with participants from Asia’s nutrition and health industry, academics and government agencies including the Singapore Agri-Veterinary Authority (AVA), Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
Daniel Tsi, Regional Director of the EAS Asia branch in Singapore, said: “As in other world regions the Asian region is being confronted with widespread and diverse challenges in the area of nutrition and health. It is vital for decision-makers looking at implementing similar models, to approach these initiatives with a clear understanding of their origin, practical application and implications.”
EAS provides strategic consulting advice on European, Asian and international regulation on food and nutritional products. It provides companies with regulatory and strategic advice for the marketing and approval of their products in Europe and Asia. EAS also advises governments, trade associations and companies on the impact of European, Asian and global policy.
EAS has offices in Brussels, Italy and Singapore. EAS Italy is a branch of EAS located in northern Italy to follow EFSA developments in Parma closely.
For more information on EAS Europe contact EAS, 50 Rue de l’Association, 1000 Brussels, tel: (+32) (0) 2 218 14 70, email [email protected] or visit www.eas.eu. For information on EAS Asia contact EAS Strategic Advice Pte Ltd, 3 Killiney Road, 07-04 Winsland House I, Singapore 239519, tel: (+65) 68 38 12 70, email: [email protected] or visit www.eas-asia.com