Objective: To determine the extent that Australian fast-food websites contain nutrition content and health claims, and whether these claims are compliant with the new provisions of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code ('the Code').
Design: Systematic content analysis of all web pages to identify nutrition content and health claims. Nutrition information panels were used to determine whether products with claims met Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criteria (NPSC) and qualifying criteria, and to compare them with the Code to determine compliance. Setting: Australian websites of forty-four fast-food chains including meals, bakery, ice cream, beverage and salad chains.
Subjects: Any products marketed on the websites using health or nutrition content claims.
Results: Of the forty-four fast-food websites, twenty (45 %) had at least one claim. A total of 2094 claims were identified on 371 products, including 1515 nutrition content (72 %) and 579 health claims (28 %). Five fast-food products with health (5 %) and 157 products with nutrition content claims (43 %) did not meet the requirements of the Code to allow them to carry such claims.
Conclusions: New provisions in the Code came into effect in January 2016 after a 3-year transition. Food regulatory agencies should review fast-food websites to ensure compliance with the qualifying criteria for nutrition content and health claim regulations. This would prevent consumers from viewing unhealthy foods as healthier choices. Healthy choices could be facilitated by applying NPSC to nutrition content claims. Fast-food chains should be educated on the requirements of the Code regarding claims.