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NZ and Australia: Food Labelling review final report

The Panel reviewing food labelling law and policy in Australia and New Zealand has released its report. It recommends major changes – many of them positive.

Traffic light food labelling system

FOE welcomes the Panel’s recommendation to introduce a traffic light food labelling system.

Although we called for introduction of a mandatory traffic light system in our submission, the Panel didn’t take this step.

They recommend traffic lights be voluntary at first, unless the product label also includes health claims or endorsements. If so, traffic lights would be mandatory. They say this is part of a staged process that would eventually see traffic lights on all food labels.

Many health organisations support a traffic light system, as an editorial in The New Zealand Medical Journal points out. Food manufacturers oppose traffic light labelling.

Health claims

The Panel supports the introduction of health claims – under strict conditions. It recommends that health claims can only be used in conjunction with traffic lights. While FOE opposed the introduction of health claims in our submission, we recommended the Panel’s approach as a fall-back position if health claims were allowed.

Next steps

The outcomes of these recommendations affect both New Zealand and Australia. We share a food standards code – including labelling for packaged foods. The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council will make recommendations to governments by the end of the year. Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson represents New Zealand on the Council.

Action needed

The Panel’s report totally rejects the position adopted in food industry submissions that a traffic light system is inferior to the percentage daily intake front-of-pack scheme increasingly being used by major food manufacturers. We can expect a very strong lobbying effort, led in New Zealand by the Food and Grocery Council, for the Ministerial Council to reject traffic lights. It will be vital for health groups to respond to this with a strong campaign in support of the Panel’s recommendations.

Key reports

Labelling Logic: The Final Report of the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy

FOE’s submission on the food labelling law and policy review (PDF)

Media coverage of the food labelling review

Release of Final Report of the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy

The Panel conducting the Independent Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy, commissioned by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, has formally presented its Final Report entitled Labelling Logic to Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, as the Chair of that Ministerial Council.
Source: Panel Media Release, 28 Jan 2011

Fast food labelling to include kilojoules, menu boards to use traffic light system in overhaul

An independent review of Australian and New Zealand food labelling has made 61 recommendations to overhaul the current system. Fast food chains may have to declare the kilojoules in food and include traffic light labelling on menu boards. It also calls for voluntary traffic light labelling of supermarket food.
Source: Courier Mail, 29 Jan 2011

Traffic light labels a win for consumers’ health

Australia’s leading coalition of health groups, the Obesity Policy Coalition, has applauded the food labelling review’s recommendations for traffic light labelling on front of food packages and fast food menus as a victory for consumers and the health of Australians
Source: Press release, Obesity Policy Coalition, 28 Jan 2011

AMA Urges Governments To Adopt Food Labelling Recommendations, Australia

The Australian Medical Association urged all Australian governments to act quickly and adopt the key recommendations of the Labelling Logic report.
Source: Press release, AMA, 30 Jan 2011

Food labelling must use traffic lights (PDF)

Protecting and promoting the health of communities is the critical issue in food labelling, say the PHA. “This is why front of pack multiple traffic light labelling of food is a fundamental preventive health measure.”
Source: Press release, Public Health Association of Australia, 28 Jan 2011

How do the food labelling recommendations measure up? Rosemary Stanton’s analysis

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton analyses the Blewett review of food labelling
Source: Croakey (the Crikey health blog), 31 Jan 2011

Governments urged to give food labelling recommendations a green light

Jane Martin from the Obesity Policy Coalition comments on the Blewett review and urges the Australian government to act on recommendations
Source: Croakey, 1 Feb 2011

Food labelling decision to come in December

Any decisions around recommendations to change food labelling rules will not be made until December.
Source: TVNZ, 30 Jan 2011

Choice backs traffic light labelling

Choice spokeswoman Clare Hughes said the group supported the report’s recommendation of a labelling system where a green, yellow or red mark would indicate a product’s nutritional content. However, they say it needs to be mandatory for all products..
Source: Courier Mail, 29 Jan 2011

New food label advice needs Government action now

The Green Party urged the New Zealand Government to urgently commit to implementing comprehensive recommendations just released by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
Source: Green Party/Scoop, 30 Jan 2011

Labelling Review Recommendations Disappointing

The Food and Grocery Council will take time over the next week to discuss the report’s implications with members and will raise these issues with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.
Source: The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, 28 Jan 2011

Food manufacturers lobby group says new labelling recommendation to adopt traffic light labels ‘overkill’

Australian Food and Grocery Council spokeswoman Kate Carnell says the new labelling is overkill and is concerned about the cost to manufacturers.
Source: ABCnet, 28 Jan 2011

Published on February 14, 2011 in Australian news,New Zealand news,Traffic light labels