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Title: Health claims on food products in South East Asia : a comparative study on regulatory framework and consumer understanding
Authors: Tan, Karin Yu Mian
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Health claims on food products facilitate communication of nutritional benefit of food products for the food industry and require regulatory approval. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aims to achieve free movement of goods under the formation of ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. Little is published about the structure and processes underpinning the regulatory frameworks for health claims on food in Southeast Asia (SEA) and the Asian consumers’ understanding of health claims. The research topic of this thesis is on the health claims on food products in SEA. The aim of the thesis is to develop clear situation awareness of how the information flow through the existing regulatory frameworks in SEA effectively communicates understanding to the consumers. The objectives were, firstly, to review the existing regulations/ guidelines on health claims in SEA and major jurisdictions; secondly, to investigate the current practices and perspectives and the understanding of health claims in SEA through (a) semi-structured interviews with 15 key stakeholders and (b) focus groups among 48 Asian mothers in three SEA countries. There were inconsistencies in the regulations and the types of evidence required for health claims application among the five SEA countries which currently have health claims regulations/ guidelines in place. An analysis of the interviews among the key stakeholders yielded similar thinking and distinct perspectives on the challenges they faced. The mothers recalled and trusted health claims on products but lacked full understanding of the functions of the nutrients. The factors affecting the understanding on health claims among the mothers were identified. The findings suggest that in order to ensure consumer confidence and understanding of health claims, active engagement with all key stakeholders together with consumer education efforts via public-private partnerships will be required in the future. A conceptual harmonised regulatory framework was proposed to bridge the gaps between the regulatory frameworks for health claims in SEA. This research provides clear direction for food industry and the regulatory community to better support innovation to increase trade in SEA region and insights to develop effective consumer communication.
Appears in Collections:School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

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