Australian health and consumer alliance renews call for Traffic Light Labelling on packaged foods

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th March 2012

A group of health Australian health and consumer organisations have renewed calls for the Australian Government to introduce legislation on front-of-pack labelling for packaged foods in Australia.

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, which represents five leading Australian chronic disease NGOs,  met this week as government consultations continue in the lead-up to an expected announcement on a new labelling system later this year from federal, state and territory governments.

In November 20122, the Federal Government announced that it did not support the Traffic Light labelling system previously recommended by the Blewett Report.

Professor Greg Johnson, Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, said unhealthy diet was a major factor in the rapid increase in obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

“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.”

Professor Johnson said many health and consumer groups had advocated for a traffic light-style system as research showed people could easily understand it.

“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.”

Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, said millions of Australians buy packaged foods every day and they are entitled to a simple interpretive system that is easy to understand.

“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.