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To: Health Minister and Dept Health Director General

Don’t delay strong warning label regulations

When health regulations are delayed, it means death. The Health Department received thousands of public comments in support of strong R3337 regulations for Front-of-Pack Warning Labels (FOPL) and marketing restrictions. Thousands of public comments called for strong regulations to be published by the end of 2023 so that by the end of 2025, the regulations will be completely in place and enforced.

We call on the Health Minister and Health Department to publish strong regulations as soon as possible. We remind the department that the final cannot be a compromise between private and public interests. Your responsibility is to serve the public and the constitution, which means keeping private interests in check and ensuring big businesses don't profit at the people's expense. We demand that you stand up to big business bullies and ensure these overdue regulations are not weakened or delayed.

Why is this important?

In South Africa, confusing and overly technical nutritional information is buried at the back of the tins, boxes, and bottles we buy at the store. But Front-Of-Pack Warning Labels would provide consumers with easy-to-understand information so we know what products are high in sugar, salt, fat, and added sweetener. Knowing what is in our food could help reduce diseases like type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke or heart disease [1].

Some big businesses will do anything to protect their profits, even if it hurts our health. Cigarette companies have tried to stop government warning labels on their products, and already some big food businesses have been finding ways to lobby the health department behind closed doors [2].

We can’t afford any more delays. It’s been 10 years since the Health Department proposed new labelling regulations [3], but according to Daily Maverick, these regulations were “... shot down internally for reasons that remain obscure, according to a former health Department employee” [4].

[2] Here’s why you should care about the food industry lobbying the health department behind closed doors, By Laura López González for Daily Maverick, 08 February, 2023

[3] Regulations: Labelling and advertising of foods: Amendment, Department of Health, 29 May 2014

[4] R3337 food labelling regulation changes delayed as health department drags feet in review process, By Adèle Sulcas for Daily Maverick, 16 February 2024


Updates

2024-07-04 19:15:36 +0200

100 signatures reached

2024-07-01 15:11:16 +0200

50 signatures reached

2024-06-29 09:54:04 +0200

25 signatures reached

2024-06-28 15:56:49 +0200

10 signatures reached