Nutrient information contained on labels of food products is essential information on nutrient content for consumers that helps in the selection of healthy and appropriate foodstuffs. However the differences in the regulations for nutritional labelling of food products in ASEAN Member States lead to a situation in which food products traded within ASEAN are required to indicate nutrient information in a manner unique to each ASEAN Member State. The potential harmonisation of nutritional labelling will lead to cost savings and facilitate intra-ASEAN trade in food products.
The ASEAN Committee Harmonisation of Prepared Foodstuffs Standards (ACHPFS) has been exploring the harmonisation of nutritional labelling. The investigations that it has undertaken have indicated that major reason for differences in methods and data sources used to determine reference values that are used for labelling purposes.
ARISE Plus, upon request from ACHPFS has provided support to regulators and nutritionists in ASEAN Member States to discuss these complex issues in a 2 day workshop held from May 31 May – June 01, 2021. An expert from ARISE Plus provided participant details of Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) established by the Codex Alimentarius Commissions, elaborating the concept, the method of derivation and its uses in nutrition labelling. Participants were able to take stock of the Member States existing regulations across ASEAN on the use of NRVs for labelling and to conduct discussions on the potential to harmonise NRVs across ASEAN.
The workshop was attended by thirty-seven (37), from representing all 10 ASEAN Member States. The participants comprised of officials involved in the administration of nutrition labelling guidelines/regulations and by nutritionists involved in the development or use of daily nutrient intake reference and recommended values.
The discussions ended in a positive note with participants noting the high potential for harmonisation based on the recommends from Codex, with 5 Member States stating that they have adopted the Codex values or are in the process of updating regulations/guidelines to align with Codex NRVs. Upon reaching a consensus Member States would have made a significant advance to enabling harmonised nutritional labelling in ASEAN