Consumer watchdog CHOICE has slammed the federal government’s decision not to introduce compulsory front-of-pack traffic light labeling on foods in Australia.
Rumors had been swirling all week that the Gillard government would introduce the bill, which shows sodium, fat and sugar levels at a glance.
But ahead of the 9 December meeting of food and health ministers, the government has released its position on the scheme, saying it will not be approving it.
CHOICE has been calling for the scheme all year in a bid to curb the obesity crisis gripping Australia, where one in six is overweight and one in three obese, and has expressed its intense dissatisfaction of the governments decision not to follow expert recommendations.
“The Federal Government’s response defies the experts’ advice and ignores the public’s appetite for better, more informative food labels,” CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just said.
“However, the States and Territories still have a once in a generation opportunity to put consumers first at the Food Regulation Ministerial Council meeting.”
The People’s Watchdog is calling on State and Territory governments to show leadership and commit to the introduction of mandatory traffic light-style labelling because it helps consumers make healthier choices.
“Disappointingly, the Federal Government’s announcement suggests that well-resourced industry lobbying is more important than the right of Australian consumers to make an informed choice about the food they eat every day,” Just said.
The Australian Food and Grocery Counci (AFGC) is against the traffic light labeling, saying it is too simplistic to work.
Instead, it wants to maintain the Daily Intake Guides, which it says offers a more detailed description on the health of a product.
But in August it a survey found that while most Australians understand the Daily Intake Guides, few use them to make healthier food choices.
Do you support the traffic light scheme? Or are the Daily Intake Guides more useful? Is there an entirely different measure we should be putting in place?