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NZ: Clash of views on healthy food labelling

Food manufacturers and the public health sector are at loggerheads over front-of-pack nutrition labelling, according to an editorial in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

This finding comes from a study of submissions to the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy currently being conducted in Canberra, and applying to both New Zealand and Australia.

Results show that 62% of submissions from food manufacturers favour use of a “Daily Intake Guide” on the front of food packages. This shows the percentage of the recommended daily intake of nutrients such as fat, sugar and salt in a single serving of a food product.

However no submissions from the health sector agree. Instead the sector favours schemes that interpret nutrition information for shoppers, so that they do not have to understand percentages and make complex calculations.

The scheme most favoured in health sector submissions uses traffic light colours – green, amber and red – to show how a product fits within a healthy diet. Green lights show that a product has low levels of saturated fats, sugar and salt, while red lights indicate high levels.

More than half of health sector submissions think that a traffic light scheme is a good approach, with none disagreeing. None of the submissions by food manufacturers back this approach.

Published in: NZ Medical Journal, 15 Oct 2010 (restricted access)

Read more: Press Release, University of Otago, 15 Oct 2010

Published on October 17, 2010 in New Zealand news,Traffic light labels