CFA member CHOICE says the response of Australian governments to the food labelling review is mostly good news for consumers, progressing several priorities from the consumer group’s Better Food Labelling Campaign.
The people’s watchdog said that while today’s decision stopped short of traffic light labels, ministers committed to developing an interpretive front-of-pack nutrition labelling system within a year.
“CHOICE has been campaigning for a traffic light style labelling system for many years because it interprets complex nutritional information and presents it in a way that can be understood, at-a-glance, by time-poor shoppers,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.
“A new interpretive system must ensure that consumers are able to compare products easily and make healthy choices.”
“While we’re disappointed that ministers have ignored the evidence supporting traffic lights, we are pleased that the decision for an interpretive system rules out the current, flawed Daily Intake Guide approach favoured by industry.”
CHOICE says today’s response also involved a step in the right direction on stamping out dodgy health and nutrition claims, another priority in CHOICE’s Better Food Labelling Campaign.
“We are encouraged that ministers are moving towards stamping out some of the dodgyclaims on products that make healthy decisions harder for consumers,” says Ms Just.
“This was the focus of CHOICE’s Shame the Claim campaign and now ministers have recognised the need to scrutinise the type of claims that were highlighted on the Wall of Shame.”
“Some of the worst offenders carried claims like ‘high in fibre’ and ‘low fat’ on products that were high in sugar, saturated fat and sodium.”
However, for these measures to be effective, CHOICE says that it is imperative that consumers are part of the consultation process.
“CHOICE will continue to campaign for the right of Australian consumers to make informed decisions about the food they buy for themselves and their families,” says Ms Just.
Ministers have also put consumer health front and centre of food labelling today with the commitment to develop a National Nutrition Policy and guidelines that will ensure that health is a consideration in food labelling regulation.
Decisions on the remaining recommendations of the review panel are expected to be released imminently and CHOICE hopes to see more wins for consumers on our other campaign priorities, country of origin labelling and free range claims.