Food industry requests single front-of-pack labelling system

Posted by Isobel Drake on 25th March 2009

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) is calling on governments to support a single front of pack labelling system that includes information about energy, fat, sugar, salt and serve sizes.

AFGC Chief Executive, Kate Carnell, said there is already a front of pack labelling system in the market place that provides this information.

The Daily Intake Guide is on more than 1100 products and is used by major manufacturers and retailers including Woolworths, Coles, IGA, Franklins, ALDI and McDonalds. It is being progressively rolled out and will be on most products over the next two years.

The Daily Intake Guide approach is the system preferred by the European Union, following a great deal of research into consumer understanding, the AFGC said. This system was adapted for Australia, bringing it into line with Australian nutrition information panels, which will remain mandatory on all products.

“It only makes sense that the government should adopt the system that is already being used by consumers everyday to make decisions on putting together a balanced diet,” Ms Carnell suggested.

Two-thirds of people in a recent Newspoll survey of 1200 people said they found it easy to understand and more than one third reported using it to make purchasing decisions.

The AFGC, which represents Australian food and beverage manufacturers, is strongly recommending the final decision on front of pack labelling to be a part of the overall review on labelling currently being conducted as part of the COAG initiatives.

“It is essential that labelling be national, consistent and understood by the consumers. The purpose of the COAG initiative is to provide a holistic approach to labelling and avoid the problems that have been caused by piecemeal approaches to decision making in the past,” Ms Carnell explained.

The issue of food labelling remains a major talking point, with legislation likely to be drawn up before the end of the year. Either the Daily Intake Guide or ‘traffic light labelling‘ – which is has the support of some prominent health and consumer groups including Choice and the Cancer Council – is expected to become mandatory on the front of food packaging.