Victorian menus to carry nutritional info

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 29th June 2010

Victorian fast-food and chain food businesses will be required to put nutritional information on their menus by 2012.

Premier John Brumby today announced that all food businesses with 50 or more Victorian outlets, or more than 200 outlets nationwide, would be required to display kilojoule counts next to all food and drink items on menus, as well as including a daily intake statement on all printed menus and menu boards.

“This new kilojoule or calorie count will give all Victorians the latest information on what is in their food and will help them make even more informed choices about what they buy and eat,” said Brumby.

The plan is the result of a round-table meeting between the Premier and representatives of the food industry and health organisations, including VicHealth, the Heart Foundation and the Obesity Policy Coalition.

If the initiative is successful, the Government will consider extending it to include smaller food businesses.

Health Minister Daniel Andrews said that more than one third of today’s young adults would develop diabetes during their lifetime, and 14 per cent of their remaining life would be lived with diabetes.

“If we maintain current diabetes incidence rates, more than a third of our population would develop diabetes within their lifetime and in Australia there be would an additional one million cases of diabetes by the year 2025, and about 25 per cent of these would be Victorians,” he said.

“We are concerned about health in the community and believe serious and substantial change is required over the next 10 years to address this epidemic.
“This initiative is an Australian-first and has proven successful in other parts of the world such as New York and Scotland.”

VicHealth chief executive Todd Harper applauded the move.

“Until now, the fast food companies have managed to keep kilojoule counters off their displays, but the time has come to put health first. Nutritional information on packaging in tiny print or buried on a website is not good enough. The information must be clear and prominent and the place where consumers need it most – on menus at the point of sale,” he said.

“This isn’t about telling people what they should or shouldn’t eat. It’s about providing consumers with accurate information, so that they can make informed decisions about their health.”

A similar initiative, introduced in New York in 2007, has reported success in encouraging New Yorkers to make healthier food choices at the time of purchase.