NSW Govt moves to put nutritional info in menus

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 27th May 2010

HamburgerThe NSW Government has announced its support for a national requirement for fast-food chains to publish detailed nutritional information on their products as part of their menus.

Under the proposed plan, menus would include calorie/kj information, saturated fat, trans-fat and salt content of the items on offer. Currently, most fast-food outlets publish their nutritional information online (often in an inaccessible PDF format) or in dedicated leaflets.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said: “This is about encouraging people to make healthier lifestyle and eating choices – decisions they can only make if they have all the information.”

“From time to time, we all indulge in fast food for convenience and as a treat for our children, but the particular choices we make can make a big difference to the amount of calories/kilojoules we consume and our overall health,” Keneally said.

“This is about providing consumers with information and helping them make informed choices about the food they eat.”

The proposal, part of the NSW Government’s push to reduce obesity and lifestyle diseases, will be submitted to the national review on food labelling in a joint submission by NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority. Results of the review are expected in early 2011.

The exact details of the changes would be determined in consultation with the fast food sector, and with various State and Territory health and food authorities, and will examine overseas models for information and best practice techniques.

Barack Obama’s recent US healthcare legislation included a requirement forcing every restaurant chain to put calorie/kilojoule information next to each item on menus and menu boards. This idea was adopted by New York in 2006 (for restaurants of over 15 outlets), and California and Philadelphia in 2007.

In 2009, more than 450 UK food outlets introduced calorie/kilojoule information on a pilot basis. Each company has agreed to display calorie/kilojoule information for most food and drink they serve, print calorie/kilojoule information on menu boards, paper menus or on the edge of shelves, and ensure the information is clear and easily visible.

Currently, NSW is spending $15.3 billion on its health and hospital services, with a large part of this budget going to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

“With obesity levels in Australia on the rise, it is essential that we take action to give people the information they need to make informed choices,” said Kenneally.