Australia and NZ sports foods roundtable to issue report following woman's death

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Australian authorities have been in discussions about enhanced warning labels on packaging for sports nutrition supplements. ©Getty Images
Australian authorities have been in discussions about enhanced warning labels on packaging for sports nutrition supplements. ©Getty Images

Related tags Regulation Supplements Sports nutrition products

A roundtable seeking to improve consumer safety around sports foods in Australia and New Zealand will issue its report by September.

It comes after calls for more regulation were made following the death of  Meegan Hefford, a 25-year-old mother from Perth, who died after taking protein shakes regularly as part of her preparation for a bodybuilding competition.

Unbeknownst to her, a rare genetic disorder prevented her body from breaking down protein properly, eventually leading to her untimely death. "Intake of bodybuilding supplements" ​was one of the causes of death listed on her death certificate, in addition to undiagnosed urea cycle disorder.

This led federal health minister Greg Hunt to call on the country's national food and medicine watchdogs to look into the regulation of sports food supplements, and the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had assured him there were "no regulatory gaps".

Despite this, he told the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) to carry out an investigation into the opportunities to improve consumer safety at the Commonwealth and State level, via methods such as better labelling and consumer education.

Furthermore, there will be a roundtable of governments, consumer groups, and industry and health professionals to develop a strategy for more awareness, with an FSANZ review of supplementary sports food, on which FSRC chair Dr Lisa Studdert will report by September.

Hefford's mother Michelle White told Australian media that now, a year after her daughter had passed away, she hoped Greg Hunt would  enact changes in industry regulation so others could avoid the same fate.

She emphasised the need for greater control of sports supplement products, as well as the gyms and other outlets that promote and sell them.

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