Health ministry cracks down on misleading food product ads

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says claims such as helping to lower blood pressure, helping to control insulin production and reducing obesity were prohibited. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The health ministry has warned against advertising of food products that do not comply with the Food Act 1983.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a statement here today, said the ministry viewed seriously the sale and advertising of such products using prohibited claims.

“Statements such as helping to lower blood pressure, helping to remove toxins from the body, increasing metabolism, helping to control insulin production, able to reduce obesity and so on are prohibited on food product labels and advertisements.

“The ministry, through its Food Safety and Quality Division, has taken action against those distributing or selling food products found not complying with the Food Act 1983 and its regulations,” he said.

The sale of a banana milk product has attracted criticism on social media recently after many had raised their doubts over the nutritional benefits of the drink.

Hisham said Section 17 of the Food Act 1983, among others, states that it is an offence to provide misleading labelling and advertisement of a food product.

Besides that, he said, under sub-regulation 18(6) of the Food Regulations 1985, food labels should not contain health claims such as preventing, reducing, treating and curing any disease.

“Any person who fails to comply with any provision of the Food Regulations 1985 can be fined not more than RM10,000 or a jail term not exceeding two years,” he said.

Hisham said at the same time, the ministry was conducting enforcement operations from time to time to ensure compliance with the Food Act 1983.

“Through a special operation conducted last October, 506 food premises were inspected and 2,135 food products worth RM60,494 were seized,” he said.

Hisham said the ministry had also worked with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and administrators of social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram to restrict access to websites of any food products found to be in violation of the act.