U.S. considers points-based front-of-pack labelling system: Will Australia follow?

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th December 2011

The Australian State and Territory food ministers, under the umbrella of the Federal Government’s Forum on Food Regulation, propose to investigate a suitable front-of-pack nutrition labelling model as an alternative to the Traffic Light system or Dietary Intake system. Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is contemplating a new points-based labeling system for U.S. food and drink products.

On Friday, Australian and New Zealand Ministers agreed to the need for an “interpretive” front-of-pack labelling model for packaged foods. However, no decision was reached on what such a model should comprise.

The Federal Government’s Forum on Food Regulation will consult industry, public health and consumer stakeholders with aim to develop a standardised system within one year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Government is currently considering the format for revision of nutrition labelling for food and drink products manufactured in the U.S.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine, a national research body which advises the government on health and medicine issues, is urging the U.S.’s regulatory agency, the FDA, to introduce a points-based system for packaged food products in the US.

Under this recommended points-based system, a food or drink product could earn up to three points, one each for having sodium and added sugars that do not exceed threshold amounts and one for having saturated and trans-fats below designated levels. Points would be graphically displayed on packaging as check marks, stars, or some other icon to be determined by the FDA.

A standardised front-of-pack nutrition labelling system shared by the U.S. and Australia would benefit international food manufacturers.