Daily intake percentage labels discredited

A new report finds the front-of-pack labelling system is too confusing for consumers to understand.
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  • Updated:28 Nov 2011

03.Food labelling review


The expert panel that undertook the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy, commissioned by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, presented its final report, Labelling Logic, in January 2011.

The panel studied front-of-pack labelling systems and recognised numerous disadvantages with the %DI system in its final report. The panel found:

  • The system’s reliance on literacy and numeracy skills
  • The significant cognitive processing required to interpret labels may be confusing for some people
  • The panel also recognised inconsistent serving sizes as a major issue with %DI labels.

On the other hand, the panel noted that there are many advantages of traffic light labelling, including that evidence shows it is the most effective front-of-pack labelling system in terms of facilitating consumer understanding of the nutritional content of food products. 

The panel also recognised that traffic lights facilitate comparisons between products. Ultimately, the panel recommended: 

  • The development of an interpretive front-of-pack labelling system that is reflective of a comprehensive nutrition policy and agreed public health priorities.
  • The introduction of a multiple traffic lights front-of-pack labelling system. Such a system should be voluntary in the first instance, except where general or high level health claims are made on the label, in which case it should be mandatory.

Governments around Australia will have a chance to implement these recommendations when health and agriculture ministers from the states and territories, along with the federal and New Zealand governments, meet on December 9 to respond to Labelling Logic.

What CHOICE wants

The latest research from the George Institute conclusively confirms what CHOICE has long suspected: that %DI simply does not provide consumers with the information they need to compare products easily and make healthy decisions about what to eat.

CHOICE supports interpretive front-of-pack labelling, like traffic lights, which give consumers at-a-glance nutritional information and helps inform healthy decisions.

CHOICE calls on governments to reject the confusing %DI system promoted by industry. Instead, governments need to implement the Labelling Logic recommendations and commit to the introduction of a traffic light-style interpretive front of pack labelling.


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