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The proposal ​aims to create “more proportionate” enforcement by allowing food companies to improve their product adherence to NHCR before authorities enforce fines and/or imprisonment.

However, some experts have pointed out that current enforcement of the NHCR is already weak enough, without improvement notices in place, due to a lack of commitment to prosecution, as well as the current volume of non-compliance.  

T C Callis, author and food standards, labelling and nutrition consultant tells NutraIngredients: “The new proposals will make absolutely no difference whatsoever.  It is highly likely that local authority enforcement will continue to leave ‘enforcement’ of the use of claims in advertising to the ASA. 

“It is possible that local authority enforcement might become more involved in claims being made on packaging with the use of improvement notices, but the horrific lack of resource that more local authority enforcement is currently struggling under means that it is unlikely to be high on their priority list – getting a claim wrong is generally not going to cause harm,” she adds.

Dr Mark J. Tallon, managing partner and founder of Legal Foods, stated on LinkedIn that reformations to the legislation were definitely due, but pointed out: “Who writes these proposals? Clearly no one who actually works on the ground where almost no enforcement occurs, even when TSOs are told directly of breaches.

“If you are going to reform then reform. Don’t come up with pointless options that won’t result in a level playing field with consistent enforcement!” he stressed. 

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