Public health organisations back call for Traffic Light labelling

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th October 2011

Australian public health organisations have co-signed a letter from consumer advocacy group CHOICE, urging Federal Government to adopt the Traffic Light front-of-pack food labelling scheme.

Signatories to the letter, sent to the Australian Government’s Ministerial Council responsible for labelling law and policy, include Public Health Association of Australia, Australian Medical Association, Diabetes Australia, Cancer Council Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, The Australian New Zealand Obesity Society, Diabetes Australia-Victoria, and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity at Deakin University.

Spokesperson for CHOICE Ingrid Just told Australian Food News that the letter urged the Australian Government to act on the Blewett Food Labelling Review Panel’s recommendations.

Industry opposition to Traffic Light labelling

The introduction of Traffic Light labelling has been fiercely opposed by sections of the packaged food industry, most notably the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

In a statement released today, CHOICE said that the industry body’s primary interest is the pursuit of profits. CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just said, “Presumably, the AFGC’s reluctance to support traffic light labelling is because its clarity may undermine the effectiveness of frequently used marketing claims such as ‘fat-free’ on sugar-laden products.

“Sanitarium, one of Australia’s biggest food companies, has developed a similar system based on its own research that found colour-coded systems were most effective at informing consumer choice. This shows that public health agencies, consumers and industry can work together to deliver a fair and practical system of food labelling,” Ms Just said.