01.A new process
CHOICE has met with officials from state and territory governments, along with key industry and health group representatives, to discuss the development of a new front-of-pack food labelling system.
The meeting, hosted by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, signalled the beginning of a collaborative process requested by ministers.
In response to the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (the Blewett Review), ministers rejected the recommended introduction of traffic light labelling, instead calling for a system developed in collaboration with stakeholders.
This interpretive system would involve translating numerical information already available in the nutrition information panel on the side or back of a pack into an easily-understood label on the front of the pack.
Potentially comprising colours, symbols, words or ratings, the system would prioritise an approach that has meaning for consumers, better helping them compare products and identify healthier options. Importantly, ministerial insistence on an interpretive system rules out flawed ‘daily intake guides’ currently used by some food manufacturers.
While CHOICE believes a traffic light approach is still the best option based on available evidence, we were pleased ministers committed to an interpretive system.
CHOICE has joined with public health and medical groups including the Public Health Association, Australian Medical Association, Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance and Obesity Policy Coalition to call for a system that provides consumers with the information they need in a format they can easily understand.
We will continue to contribute to the collaborative design process to ensure consumer interests remain front and centre.