Health Star Ratings and Food Standards Code revision get go-ahead from ministers

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd February 2015
Health Star Ratings and Food Standards Code revision get go-ahead from ministers
Health Star Ratings and Food Standards Code revision get go-ahead from ministers

Government Ministers at a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation have said they are ‘pleased’ with progress on issues relating to food labelling, including the troubled Health Star Rating system. The Ministers also gave the g0-ahead for the adoption of the new Food Standards Code drafted by FSANZ and due to be operative from early 2016.

Health Star Rating System

The Ministerial Forum was provided with an update on progress in implementing the Health Star Rating (HSR) system.

The Forum noted that the information campaign (including the HSR website – www.healthstarrating.gov.au) was officially re-launched on 6 December 2014.

The Forum said it welcomed the news that approximately 200 products displaying the HSR label are now available on supermarket shelves across Australia. The second wave of an information campaign will be launched in shortly. The Ministers agreed on further collaboration between their jurisdictions to ensure the marketing of the Health Star Rating is conducted in concert with broader public health promotion by jurisdictions.

The Forum noted that New Zealand is also making substantial progress in implementing the HSR system in New Zealand, with HSR already on some products, with the expectation of a significant uptake in the latter half of 2015.

Code Revision

The Forum accepted the revision of the Food Standards Code that resulted from FSANZ Proposal P1025. The revision is supposed to reduce uncertainty about the permissions to add substances to foods that are currently permitted.

Food law experts FoodLegal, in conjunction with Monash University BASE Centre, is running a FoodLegal Symposium about the revised Food Standards Code. Top speakers from FSANZ, FoodLegal, AFGC, Regulators and Monash University will be speaking at the Symposium. More information can be found here.

The revision is a step in an ongoing process of review to improve the Code.

Progress made in relation to the Government Response to the Food Labelling Review

The Forum said it had made “substantial progress” on implementing a range of recommendations from the Government’s response to the food labelling review, Labelling Logic.

In 2009, Australian and New Zealand food regulation ministers agreed to a comprehensive independent review of food labelling law and policy. An expert panel, chaired by Dr Neal Blewett, AC, undertook the review.

Labelling of Trans Fatty Acids

The Forum accepted the advice of FSANZ that, given the low level of Trans Fatty Acids (TFA) in the foods sampled in Australia and New Zealand, mandatory labelling does not appear warranted. The Food Standards Code currently permits the voluntary declaration of TFA content on labels and requires TFA declaration when certain nutrition content and health claims are made.

The Forum said it was pleased that the consumption of TFA in Australia and New Zealand remained low and was below the World Health Organisation recommended levels.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Forum will be held in July 2015 in Hobart.