New food labelling system needed to improve health, says Alliance

Tuesday, 27 March, 2012


Clear food labelling is key to improving Australian health, an alliance of leading health and consumer groups has argued.

A new labelling system is expected to be announced this year from federal, state and territory governments. The alliance sent a message to the government that a clear, interpretive front-of-pack labelling system will enable Australians to make informed, healthy choices when it comes to buying packaged foods.

The rapid increase in obesity, Type 2 diabetes and chronic diseases is due, in large part, to unhealthy diet, said Professor Greg Johnson, Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance. The alliance represents the five leading chronic disease NGOs.

“Despite this growing health crisis, consumers who want to make healthier choices have no clear guidance on what packaged foods to purchase,” Professor Johnson said.

“We urgently need a new, interpretive front-of-pack food labelling system that translates complex nutrition information into an easy guide for consumers.”

Independent studies have shown that the current daily intake guide available on packaged food is confusing for consumers.

“Consumers are telling us they want to make healthier food choices, yet they are stuck with a system that even scientists can’t use,” said Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia.

“If governments are serious about improving the nation’s health and empowering consumers to make healthy choices, then they have to support a new approach to front-of-pack labelling on all packaged food,” he said.

The traffic light system has been tagged by many health and consumer groups as being a good choice as research shows it is easily understandable.

“The federal government has already ruled out traffic lights, but we will continue to call for a system that retains its core principles - an interpretive system that includes colours and symbols that are easy to understand, provides a quick comparison between different products and makes healthy choices easy,” Professor Johnson said.

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