Food industry making products healthier

Posted by Josette Dunn on 20th August 2010

Australia’s food manufacturing sector and Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) retailers have already made strong inroads in addressing obesity through making foods healthier, reducing advertising to children and front-of-pack labelling, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

NSW Greens MP John Kaye today accused the NSW Coalition of “pandering to their friends in the [food] industry” for not supporting mandatory reductions in salt, fat and sugar in fast foods and point-of-sale labelling.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell dismissed these claims, saying food and grocery manufacturers and QSR retailers had achieved positive results in providing healthier options and better educating consumers.

“QSR retailers McDonald’s, KFC, Hungry Jack’s and Red Rooster have reduced sodium in foods and are not using trans-fats in cooking oil. They are also offering healthier choices on menus and limiting advertising of high fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) foods to children,” Ms Carnell said.

“The QSR sector has proactively reduced sugar and sodium in buns as well as committing to sodium reduction of products over the next five years.”

Industry’s new QSR Forum – launched yesterday – will also allow industry to work with government to address important health, nutrition and chronic disease issues in Australia.

Ms Carnell said under the Food and Health Dialogue, Australia’s food industry has agreed to salt reduction targets for breads and cereals. Australian researchers recently found that more than 70 per cent of Australia’s ready-to-eat cereals were already below the salt target in this category*. (*Source: Webster et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition January 2010; 91:413-20)

Ms Carnell said advertising of HFSS foods on children’s television had “virtually ceased” in Australia following the success of AFGC Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI), according to a report released in March 29 this year.

Industry has also achieved success in front-of-pack food labelling under the Daily Intake Guide (DIG) scheme which gives people the information needed to formulate a daily eating plan according to their individual needs and activity levels.