Packaged food items carrying health claims that sell less than 30,000 units a year will have to bear nutrition labels after the Legislative Council voted down two proposed exemptions for such products yesterday. The packaging must include a label detailing the total energy content and seven elements: protein, carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, sodium and sugar. Both the government's proposed amendments to a food-labelling regulation were rejected by a vote of 26 for, 25 against and one abstention. Because the votes in favour of the amendment fell short of half of the number of legislators present, the amendment was not passed. Speaking after the vote, Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said he was happy the labelling regulation had taken effect yesterday, but was disappointed the amendment had been voted down. 'We are satisfied the original proposal was passed,' Dr Chow said. 'The amendment could have enhanced the effectiveness of the proposal. We are disappointed' that the amendment was not passed. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Liberal Party supported the exemption proposal, but the Democratic Party and Civic Party voted against it. An amendment proposed by Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming to remove products that make health claims from the list of exemptions was voted down. Liberal Vincent Fang Kang's proposed amendment to extend the grace period under the regulation from the proposed two years to three was also rejected. Under the government's original proposal, food items that sell less than 30,000 units per year would have been exempted from the labelling regulation. Items with 'health' claims would not have been exempt. However, retailers had warned that about 15,000 lines of food would no longer be sold in shops if products making health claims were obliged to carry nutrition labels. Under pressure, the government proposed an amendment extending the exemption to all foods with small sales volumes as long as they carried labels saying they might not comply with the law. The amendment also allowed manufacturers to claim their products had zero trans-fat if they are labelled as such elsewhere. Now products can only claim zero trans-fat if it has 0.3 grams of trans-fat per 100 grams of food. Dr Chow said yesterday finding a balance between the different positions had been difficult. 'You can see that the votes for and against are quite even,' he said. 'The government will respect the decision.' During the debate, Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said it was understandable that consumers would think about product information, while some businessmen would look after their interests.