Action needed on kilojoule labelling of menus in Victoria

The Heart Foundation (Victoria) has called on the Victorian State Government to join with NSW, SA and the ACT to make kilojoule labelling mandatory on menu boards at all fast food outlets across the state.

The Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO, Diana Heggie, said kilojoule labelling will help Victorians who are eating out to make a healthier choice for themselves and their families. In Victoria, 62% of adults are classified as overweight or obese. With over 2.6 million Australians eating in fast food restaurants every single day, labelling of kilojoules on menu boards will provide useful information to help people make healthier choices. In NSW, fast food chains with 20 outlets state-wide or 50 nationally (including coffee, bakery and snack food chains) are required by law to display kilojoule information on their menu boards.

Whilst Victoria has benefited from the NSW legislation – with the major national fast food chains now displaying kilojoules on their menu boards – a recent Heart Foundation (Victoria) audit revealed less than half of 27 audited chain food companies displayed kilojoules on their menu boards. These included well-known bakery, coffee, ice-cream and snack food chains. Study from the Heart Foundation (Victoria) has shown that without legislation in Victoria there are inconsistencies in kilojoule labelling, with many chain food outlets not displaying kilojoules on their menu boards. Unfortunately this means that Victorians are not able to make an informed and potentially healthier choice when eating out. By providing consumers with the kilojoule content of take away food choices, the Heart Foundation (Victoria) believes people will more easily be able to decide what the healthier choice is.

Ms Heggie said on June 29 in 2010, the then State Government announced they would be introducing mandatory labelling across Victoria – and this would be rolled out by 2012. Unfortunately, this has not happened, but the Heart Foundation (Victoria) now has more evidence to show why it should be introduced in Victoria. Labelling on menus is one part of the solution in the ongoing struggle to maintain healthy weight, but an important step for the Victorian Government to take in helping tackle obesity.

Mandatory kilojoule labelling is supported by the Victorian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, which includes the Heart Foundation (Victoria), Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Australia – Vic, National Stroke Foundation and General Practice Victoria. Mandatory kilojoule labelling was introduced in NSW on 1 February 2011 and in ACT and South Australia on 1 February 2012.

Additional information:

  • There is a direct link between a high intake of unhealthy, energy dense foods and obesity and heart disease
  • Australians now spend an estimated 42 cents in every food dollar eating out of home.
  • Fast food has more kilojoules (up to 65% more), higher levels of saturated fat and salt and larger portion sizes compared to food prepared in the home