STATEMENT: For South Africans, Front-of-Pack Warning Labels are long overdue.

18 April 2023

The Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) applauds the National Department of Health (NDoH) for releasing for public comment the Front-of-Pack Warning Label (FOPWL) regulations. We would like to encourage all South Africans to support the introduction of these mandatory black warning labels which will protect us from profit–driven corporate activities promoting harmful goods and unhealthy food.

Following global trends, South Africans are consuming an increasing amount of ultra-processed foods, leading to adverse health complications and poor health outcomes for a lot of South Africans, including children. The dominance of these unhealthy products in stores, incomprehensible food labels, and aggressive advertising by the food industry undermine consumers’ ability to choose healthier food options.

The newly published FOPWL and marketing draft regulation, R3287, is a ground breaking intervention that will serve as an enabler for South African consumers to have clear information about the food they are consuming, thus empowering them to make better food choices.

READ MORE: Parents Want To Make Healthy Food Choices For Their Children. 

This step taken by government is long overdue given the thousands of South African citizens who have succumbed to the effects of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease linked to unhealthy diets. Currently, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are among the top 10 leading causes of death in the country.

“High in” front-of-pack warning labels, which clearly identify products that are high in things like sugar, salt, and saturated fat will help consumers spot unhealthy foods. HEALA believes that front-of-pack warning labelling can be used as a policy tool to promote healthy diets by making it easier for consumers to understand the nutritional values of the food they are eating and making healthier food choices.

Given the overwhelming number of people suffering from obesity and non-communicable diseases in our country, almost half of women and almost 1 in 4 men, it is vital that government uses all tools at its disposal to protect the South African population from these deadly diseases.

“We believe that food regulation is vital to counter the food industry’s greed and profit making mechanisms,” says Nzama Mbalati, Head of Programmes at HEALA.

The regulations will also make it harder for organizations to advertise and market to children, who are the most vulnerable to the food industry’s predatory marketing practices.

HEALA would like to encourage all those who live in South Africa to engage with the regulations and show their support by submitting here.