Greens want support on plain packaging of tobacco

The Australian Greens have welcomed the introduction of plain packaging on cigarettes which passed through the Senate this week.

Greens’ spokesperson for health, Senator Richard Di Natale said the move will begin better tobacco control for Australia.

"Plain packaging reform is an important public health initiative and an historic achievement in tobacco control," she said.

"As a doctor, I witnessed the devastation of cigarettes first-hand.

“In fact tonight I will be administering lung tests on other MPs as part of the Australian Lung Foundation’s ‘show us your lungs’ campaign."

Lung and throat cancer are two of Australia’s leading causes of deaths, and Natele believes the changes to legislation will start to fix that.

"Every Australian has had their lives touched by the scourge of tobacco in some way,” she said.

“We must take every possible measure to reduce the burden of harm that tobacco inflicts on our society.

"The only thing that will prevent the passage of such important reform this week is the possible delaying tactics of the Coalition.

"Plain packaging is a reform that will save lives – it cannot wait.

"I call on all the parties to give plain packaging a speedy passage through the Senate.

Coke to use 20% less plastic in bottles from SA plant

Beverage giant Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) today officially opened two new “blowfill” lines at the company’s Thebarton production facility in Adelaide, South Australia.

The “Blowfill” technology represents a $35m investment in CCA’s South Australian operation and will enable the drink maker to design and manufacture its own PET beverage bottles using fewer raw materials at the Thebarton plant.

The company has invested approximately $450m to installing “blowfill” technology at all of its production facilities across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua NewvGuinea and Fiji.

The completion of the two new lines at the Thebarton facility is the beverage manufacturer’s largest single investment in “blowfill” technology to date. 

According to CCA managing director Warwick White, “blowfill” technology will fundamentally change the nature of manufacturing in the business.

“The introduction of this technology has enabled us to redesign and lightweight our entire small carbonated soft drink and water PET bottle range,” White said at the official opening of the new lines at CCA’s SA plant this morning.

“With innovation comes benefits which, in this case, are good for CCA, our customers and the communities we operate in. They include significant cost savings, production efficiency gains, increased product shelf life and stacking ability,” he said.

The new technology is expected to reduce the company’s carbon footprint of beverage containers by over 20% and help the beverage and bottle maker meet its environmental sustainability goals in both energy and water savings.

“A significant portion of these savings will come from bottle redesigns that use less PET resin, with others from the elimination of the need to transport empty bottles to CCA bottling facilities, and energy savings to the line,” White said.

“This investment continues our lightweighting journey – a journey which has already seen CCA achieve a 20% increase in packaging raw material efficiency since 2004.” 

CCA estimates that more than 9000 tonnes of PET resin will be saved per year when all its production lines have installed “blowfill” technology. 

The two new “blowfill” lines at the Thebarton facility were officially opened today by White and member for Croydon, Michael Atkinson MP.

The Thebarton facility has been running since 1952 and currently produces approximately 110 million PET bottles per year.

CCA employs approximately 450 South Australians. Its beverage range include brands under licence from The Coca-Cola Company (major brands include Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, diet Coke,  Sprite, Fanta, Glaceau vitamin water, Powerade Isotonic, Mother energy drink), along with CCA-owned brands.

Debate over bottled water ban at another uni

A ban on bottled water by the Victorian College of the Arts has been met with criticism from drink companies and praise from environmental groups.

Geoff Parker, the Australasian Bottled Water Institute’s chief executive said the ban would create a ”nanny campus.”

He questioned whether there would be any actual environmental benefits from the ban.

”If they are serious about reducing their environmental footprint, they probably need to ban soft drinks and coffee and just about every other commercial beverage other than bottled water, which has one of the lowest environmental footprints of any beverage,” Parker said.

Greens MLC Colleen Hartland has defended the college over it’s installation of water fountains and ban on bottled water.

"What a typically arrogant reaction from the big drinks companies,” she said.

“They think they have a special entitlement to sell their overpriced, polluting products wherever they want.”

The College, which is part of the University of Melbourne, is not the first tertiary education campus to ban bottled water, with the University of Canberra introducing one earlier this year.

On Thursday students at La Trobe university in Sydney held a protest about the college’s plan to ban the sale of bottled water on campus.

A Parliament Inquiry into Hartland’s Bill for a10c refundable deposit on bottles, cans and cartons will commence on Wednesday.

Nuplex Industries buys Acquos’s Masterbatch for $23.5 million

Nuplex Industries has today announced its acquisition of Acquos’s Masterbatch business.

Acquos Masterbatch manufactures additives known as Masterbatch that colour and enhance the performance of plastics, as well as industrial and agriculatural applications including wire coatings and plastic sheeting.

The $23.5 million purchase will add to Nuplex’s presence in the masterbatch industry, as it already owns and operates Culamix, which adds new colour technologies and manufactures black masterbatch.

The two companies will be combined to make Nuplex Masterbatch, which is expected to become the leading masterbatch supplier in Australia and New Zealand.


Small food and beverage companies knocked out in new market

Australia’s food and beverage industry is not doing as well as it seems, and substantial change is set to hit the sector, a new report says.

The smaller, less dynamic companies will be the ones left behind as larger players invest more in innovation and niche companies take a stranglehold of their individual markets.

It will leave these smaller companies unable to compete and at risk of being taken over or put out of business.

The report by research company Grant Thornton, supported by Monash University and the Australian Food and Grocey Council (AFGC) identified ensuing profit as the reason 1 in 3 chief executives would invest in product innovation.

The average spend on product innovations at most companies is between one and five per cent, and less on research on development.

While it seems like a small percentage of a company’s spend, the amount bigger companies are spending simply cannot be matched by the smaller guys.

The other major problem for smaller companies is the dominance of the big two.

But in this case the big two are not necessarily the big two supermarkets, but supermarkets as a whole and big companies.

Because, while big companies can spend huge amounts of money on developing, manufacturing, and advertising products on a large scale, ensuring they have top billing in all areas, they are quickly losing their footing to the home brand options now being sold by the major supermarkets.

The competition between these two players, supermarkets and big business, leaves the smaller players with no hope of competing, and so the dominance increases.

Grant Thornton’s Industry Leader for Food & Beverage, Tony Pititto, says the industry is changing more rapidly today than ever before.

“The industry is split – until now the divide has been masked by consumer demand and stable input prices,” he says.

“As the market changes, ultimately what we expect to see is a more concentrated industry landscape, dominated by large companies with strong brands, but with room for agile, niche players.”

Industry is adapting to the changes by embracing new ways of looking at the market and exploring new customer and supplier agreements, according to the report.

Companies are also developing strategic alliances and acquisitions to build their presence in niche markets.

Last week, specials website CatchOfTheDay, which offers members exclusive online offers on everything from toys to holidays launched a website devoted to groceries, after identifying a gaping hole in the market for such a service.

“CatchOfTheDay has been experimenting with selling groceries for the last 12 months,” a GroceryRun spokesperson told Food Magazine.

“For two days each month they would run a grocery shopping event, and it was amazingly successful," the spokesperson explained.

“They were selling two items a second, and the shopping event would net over $1 million in revenue in the 48 hours, so they knew there was a demand because nobody was selling groceries online.

The spokesperson said the website is not intended as a replacement for supermarkets or local butchers and grocers, but is just another way for customers to hunt around for the best deal.

The profits companies are making are becoming increasingly important, with over 80 per cent of those surveyed in the Grant Thornton report, saying they are expecting to fund future growth revenue through internally generated funds or existing debt lines.

All companies identified the impending carbon tax as a concern which will require changes to their business, with most estimating a cost of five per cent of sales in the first year, and about 10 per cent the two years following.

“It’s expected that the impact will be different for each sector, however an increase in utility and other costs will be common across the Industry,” Pititto says.

“Now is the time for all food and beverage companies to reassess their pricing models to ‘future proof’ their business.

“To warrant the surveyed optimism, the Industry must tighten cost controls, free up cash for innovation and review their strategies as a matter of priority.”

Image: Local Foood News

Sharing your Coke: marketing genius or just entirely weird?

People’s names are popping up in the strangest of place; the latest being Coke bottles.

Everywhere, people are drinking from their bottles which each bear the slogan “Share a Coke with [name].”

The names include Nick, Mel, Josh, Jessica, Luke, and a bunch of others.

In what seems like another new and interesting marketing move, the makers of Coke, Coca-cola Amital are trying to find another way to appeal to consumers.

Food Magazine has contacted the company for more information but a company spokesperson said they could not comment on the campaign until it has officially been launched in coming weeks.

Would you be more likely to buy a Coke if it had your name on it? Or would you maybe refuse to buy one because you couldn’t find your name?

Image: A selection of names on Coke bottles at a local convenience store

Copycat Coles? The striking similarities between Coles’ home brand products and other brands

Some striking similarities have been revealed between the packaging of well-known food products and the home brand options being produced by supermarkets.

The question over the rights to bottles and other packaging has become increasingly complicated and only last week Coke was suing Pepsi for using a bottle too similar to its own.

If it is found that Pepsi did indeed steal something that belonged to Coke when it released its bottle, it could have huge consequences for other industries, not only food.

There is only ever going to be a certain amount of bottle designs, for example, that will serve the purpose of the packaging, which is to contain the liquid in the best possible condition until it is opened and able to be poured into your mouth.

So with an ever-increasing number of food and beverage manufacturers entering the market, it could spell disaster as more and more designs would presumably be bought up by the big corporations.

Mumbrella has conducted research into the similarities in Coles’ packaging of home brand products and other established ones and reported the findings on its website in “The amazing Coles product lookalikes.”

Image: Mumbrella

Paying more for less?

Are we being tricked every time we go into a supermarket? Are we bargain shoppers or brain-dead shoppers?

The tricks and gimmicks employed by some manufacturers are explored by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alicia Wood.

They are the unspoken tricks of the trade – the subtle techniques manufacturers employ every day to get shoppers to pay more, for less. And more often than not, they pass unnoticed.

They can range from widening the opening in your favourite bottle of tomato sauce or tube of toothpaste, so you use a little more with every squirt, to tweaking the size and shape of the product while the price remains the same.

Full article available on The Sydney Morning Herald website.

BPA found in foods marketed to children

It’s pretty common knowledge that the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is dangerous, and most people have discarded plastic water bottles and baby bottles to avoid it.

But new information has emerged indicating that BPA is still present in canned foods.

The United States Breast Cancer Fund released a study on Wednesday that had some startling results.

Of the canned soups and pastas they studies, all were found to contain BPA, including the organic brands.

Worryingly, the product found with the most BPA was marketed to children: Campbell’s Disney Princess Cool Shapes, with 148 parts per billion.

The Breast Cancer Fund says it is particularly dangerous for children to ingest the chemical as it can have a far bigger impact in the developmental years.

The average was 49 parts per billion, which the cancer research and prevention advocacy group says is cause for alarm.

The levels "are of great concern because BPA disrupts the body’s delicate hormonal systems," it says.

BPA is a chemical used during manufacturing that has been shown to mimic estrogen and cause reproduction problems in lab animals.

It has also been linked to cancer in animals but it is unclear whether humans suffer the same side effects.

Statistics in Canada showed over 90 per cent of people had some BPA in their body.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand monitors the presence and regulation of BPA in Australia and says studies have shown there are some safe levels of the substance.

“The internationally established safe level, called the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI), for BPA is 0.05 mg per kilogram of body weight per day,” it says.

“The TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance in food that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk.

“It is based on animal studies and incorporates a safety factor which allows scientists to calculate a safe level of consumption for humans.”

The other important factor, according to FSANZ, is that the amount of BPA a person would have to ingest for it to be dangerous is quite high.

“A nine month old baby weighing 9 kg would have to eat more than 1 kg of canned baby custard containing BPA every day to reach the TDI, assuming that the custard contained the highest level of BPA found (420 parts per billion) in a recent survey by CHOICE,” FSANZ states.

In 2008 the Canadian Government announced it would prohibit the importation, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles and in 2010, the Australian government announced it would be voluntarily phasing out baby bottles containing the chemical.

Further research is continually being carried out across the world to determine the impacts of BPA.


Slow movement on national deposit scheme

Federal environment ministers could not reach an agreement on a national recycling and deposit scheme for packaged drink containers at a meeting in Canberra on Friday.

The proposed scheme would incur a 10-cent fee on containers which would be refunded when recycled.

A similar scheme has been in place in South Australia since the late seventies and the Northern Territory is currently looking to introduce one similar in January next year.

The proposal discussed in the meeting on Friday was actually developed in July 2010 to reduce littering and encourage recycling following findings in the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS).

Tasmanian Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Brian Wightman welcomed the progress on the development of a CRIS, including an investigation of the economic impacts of a national container deposit scheme (CDS).

Speaking from the meeting, Wightman said that he was pleased to see the CRIS is on track and that ministers have reaffirmed the commitment to open consultation with stakeholders during the development of the statement.

“The CRIS will provide a thorough and transparent mechanism for investigating a range of national measures to increase recycling and decrease littering of packaging waste, which includes a CDS, an advanced disposal fee, and co-regulatory industry product stewardship schemes," Mr Wightman said.

“I recognise there is strong support in the wider community for governments to introduce container deposit schemes.

“However, it is important that we ensure the economic impacts of any such scheme are positive, and that other potential options are also thoroughly examined.
He said Tasmania has recognised the importance of developing a scheme that will successfully reduce landfill and litter.

“Apart from the environmental impacts, it is estimated that compared to land filling, recycling can provide around three times as many jobs per tonne of waste.

“If national agreement is not reached on a CDS or a cost-effective policy for increasing recycling and reducing packaging litter, we will continue to look into the potential for a state-based system.”

It’s expected that the CDS scheme could increase recycling rates by eight per cent and reduce littering by six per cent, or 19 per cent by volume.

But Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says enough progress has not been made and the latest developments are the latest in a line of empty promises.

“We’ve had two Senate inquiries, countless reports supporting a national container deposit scheme, then yet another year of analysis,” he said.

“South Australia’s use of container deposits for more than 30 years was a case study in the success of the system.”

“Australians use more than 12 billion drink containers every year.

“Every day the Commonwealth delays the introduction of a national container deposits system means an extra nine million recyclable containers – each day – going into landfill or being left as litter.”

Manufacturers should abolish sell-by dates: UK govt

The UK government is urging manufacturers to dispose of sell-by dates on food packaging.

The government says such a move would save shoppers money and reduce the £12 billion of edible food thrown away there each year, which the government says is partly due to confusing packaging, the BBC reports.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says that equates to five million tonnes of edible foods is being discarded by UK households each year, a staggering equivalent of £680 for households with children.

The British Retail Consortium believes a better strategy would be educating consumers about what dates on foods mean.

"Helping consumers understand that food past its best-before date can still be eaten or cooked could contribute to reducing food waste and saving people money," Food Director Andrew Opie said.

"The government should be spreading that message, not focusing on retail practices."

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said confing food labelling is to blame for about responsible for £750m of the £12bn edible-food wastage each year and believes the sell-by dates are no longer relevant.

"We want to end the food labelling confusion and make it clear once and for all when food is good and safe to eat," she said.

She wants all stock rotation information, including sell-by dates, removed from packaging completely.

"There are products that have several dates on them; use by, best before.

"Sometimes it says ‘display until’, which is not relevant at all by the time it’s sitting in your fridge," Spelman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

"So I can understand when people – particularly young people starting out with shopping – look at these dates and say ‘I’m not sure about this; better throw it away’."

While compliance with the new guidance is not required by law, DEFRA says businesses are legally required to label food with either a use-by or best-before date.

The foods likely to require a use-by date, those that could become dangerous to eat, include soft cheese, ready-prepared meals and smoked fish, DEFRA says.

But other foods like biscuits, jams, crisps and tinned foods, which may lost quality but not be unsafe, only require a best before date.

But the Food Standards Agency (FSA) maintains the new advise is relevant.

"We always emphasise that use-by dates are the most important, as these relate to food safety," head of hygiene and microbiology, Liz Redmond said.

The UK appears to be playing a game of catch up, as Food Standards Australia New Zealand spokesperson Lorraine Belanger told Food Magazine.

“We already have system they’re talking about in place,” she said.

“Essentially, for most foods, there is a use by or best before, unless they have a shelf life of more than two years so they don’t have to have a date on them.”

“If it is a best before date, retailers can still sell a product, but its up to them to make sure its safe.”

“Anything unsafe, like dairy or other animal products, cannot legally be sold past their use by date.”



Ban on cartoons in advertising unnecessary: AFGC

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has slammed calls to ban licensed characters on food products, labelling it unnecessary.

It says Australian food companies have already stopped using characters in advertising high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) food products to children.

Yesterday the Cancer Council NSW announced it has submitted a proposal to have the use of cartoons and sporting stars in advertisements high in sugars, fats and salts banned.

AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said under the Responsible Children’s Marketing Inititative (RCMI), many companies have already stopped using licensed characters in advertising unhealthy foods to children under 12.

“Industry has removed licensed characters from advertising HFSS food products to children in a range of different media such as TV, radio, online and in school canteens – under the RCMI,” Carnell said.

“Licensed characters such as Coco the Monkey and Freddo Frog have been around for decades in Australia – the obesity epidemic only started in the 1980’s.

“So you simply can’t blame the obesity problem on Coco and Freddo.

“There’s also been a strong online backlash over calls for a ban today from Australian parents, with mums and dads saying the Cancer Council has taken the issue one-step-too-far.”

Recent research has shown an alarming one in four Australian children are overweight or obese and last month the Victorian government unveiled a $40 million campaign to educate families on healthy eating and exercise in an attempt to beat the bulge.

Carnell believes the RCMI has been effective in reducing the number of adverts targeting children for HFSS foods, pointing towards recent research which found only 2.4 per cent of advertisements on children’s television were unhealthy foods, and most were there due to errors by advertising agencies.

“Clearly these outcomes show that there is no need for advertising bans of HFSS foods on children’s’ television in Australia.

“Advertising bans, which amount to censorship, are not the answer to addressing Australia’s obesity problem,” Carnell said.

However, other statistics show that since the AFGC suggested to food advertisers that they should stop advertising unhealthy foods to children, the number of junk food ads on television screens has actually increased.

Many blame this on the fact the industry was never forced to comply and it was therefore left up to companies to decide to stop the practise themselves.

The number of fast food ads is even higher than it was before the code, and the amount of junk food ads seen on our screens hasn’t wavered.

So in June the Australian Medical Association (AMA) labeled the initiative a failure and called for government legislation to be introduced, because the self-regulation was not working.

Last month junk food giants Burger King and McDonald’s copped criticism for its decision not to join KFC to ban toys in children’s meals.

But the AFGC maintains it is working and said when similar regulations were introduced in other countries, it had the reverse effect.

“Similar bans on advertising these foods to children in Sweden and in Canada have been unsuccessful in combating obesity,” AFGC said in a statement.

“In fact, in Quebec after the ban was implemented, obesity tripled among boys and doubled for girls.

“A recent Productivity Commission study also found the link between TV viewing and childhood obesity was ‘small in magnitude’ and it was ‘difficult to discern a relationship between advertising and body weight’”.

CHOICE calls for country of origin labelling on all meat products

Consumer watchdog CHOICE is calling for mandatory country of origin labelling on unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken products to help consumers make informed decisions about the meat they’re buying.

Only unpackaged pork and seafood are currently required to display labels identifying their country of origin, but CHOICE wants the same on allbeef, chicken and sheep products.

“Under current food labelling regulations, Australian consumers are not entitled to know where the unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken meat they buy at their local butcher or supermarket comes from,” CHOICE policy advisor, Angela McDougall said.

“Closing the loopholes in country of origin labelling will mean that consumers will be able to know whether the beef, sheep or chicken meat they buy is Australian or not.”

CHOICE says feedback from consumers has shown country of origin labelling is one of the most common food labelling concerns, and a survey done in September 2010 found that 85% of respondents would like to know, at the very least, the origin of the ingredient that characterises products.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has made the proposal for labelling on all unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken meat products.

CHOICE says the move was prompted by community concerns over imported beef following the change in Australia’s bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) food safety policy.

It says the change in policy means that countries which were previously ineligible to export beef to Australia due to BSE concerns will be able to access the Australian market provided they meet new requirements.

FSANZ and CHIOCE both believe a single sign could be effectively used by butchers to distinguish which products were local or import.

Image: Lloyd’s List

Bega to supply home-branded Coles cheeses

Bega Cheese has confirmed it will be supplying the entire range of Coles’ home brand cheeses.

The five-year contract will see the country’s largest ASX-listed dairy company manufacture and process natural cheddar as well as processed cheddar and mozzarella.

It is expected the company will produce 19 000 tonnes per annum, which Bega Cheese chief executive officer Aidan Coleman said will considerably increase operations.

“While Bega already packs around 14,000 tonnnes of Coles’ retail cheese products for a third party, the new arrangement will see an additional 7,000 tonnes of bulk cheese being manufactured through its production facilities,” he said.

“Coles and Bega Cheese will now formalise proposed arrangements into a long term agreement.

“Subject to this formal agreement being signed, it is anticipated that Bega Cheese will commence its direct supply of cheese products in the third quarter of 2012.
“In anticipation of commencing the proposed arrangement, production and ageing of cheddar cheese will commence immmediately at the Bega Cheese Coburg facility, in Victoria,” Coleman said.

The demand for milk for the products will increase by about 70 million litres, Coleman said, and will be sourced from new and existing suppliers in New South Wales and Victoria.

The Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Joe Ludwig released a statement welcoming the contract, saying it shows the dairy industry is capable of embracing change.

“I applaud Coles for this move – it’s great to see that more Australian product will be available on supermarket shelves,” he said.

“I am sure Australian consumers will be equally pleased to be able to purchase a product that supports Australian farmers and industry, with flow-on affects to rural communities.”

The Minister has faced increased pressure in recent months over the supermarket price wars which saw milk prices drop to $1 a litre.

Following an inquiry into the issue, the dairy industry expressed its outrage that Coles was cleared by the ACCC for its predatory pricing.

The Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation (QDO) has accused the ACCC of reaching premature conclusions, when it said Coles had not breached the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 when it dropped the price of milk.

Misleading ‘free range’ claims lands Steggles, La Iconia chicken suppliers in court with ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking a chicken supplier to the Federal Court, claiming they wrongly advertised chickens as free range.

The ACCC has alleged national Steggles suppliers Baiada Poultry and Barttner Enterprises, La Iconica suppliers, Turi Foods and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation were misleading or deceptive in the promotion and supply of chicken products.

The ACCC says the impression that Steggles chickens are raised in barns with plenty of room to roam freely used in the advertisement and promotion greatly influence consumers.

It says Baiada Poultry and Barttner Enerprises made the misleading claims in print advertising and product packaging.

The ACCC alleges Turi Foods made its false or misleading representations through in-store displays and advertising on delivery trucks that La Ionica brand meat chickens are able to roam freely in barns with substantial space and in conditions equivalent to a free range system.

The Federation has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made misleading representations that meat chickens are raised in barns in which meat chickens have substantial space available allowing them to roam around freely, the ACCC alleges.

It also alleges that the population density of meat chickens raised in barns preclude such movement and is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and injunctions.

The ACCC also wants orders that the processor respondents publish corrective notices in newspapers and magazines and, in respect of ACMF, on its website, orders that the respondents implement trade practices compliance programs, and costs.

A spokesperson from Turi Foods told Food Magazine they cannot comment on the case for legal reasons.

Steggles and La Ionica have not responded to requests for comments on the issue.

How Maccas gets consumers addicted

Fast food chains have tapped into the inner-workings of our brains to make us crave unhealthy foods, even when we’re not hungry.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s report on a study revealed in Psychology Today looks at why people crave certain foods and how they are as addictive as drugs.

The study, titled “Seven things McDonald’s knows about your brain,” found that even basic sugar can be addictive, and considering most everything on the menu at the fast food giant contains sugar, this is a big problem.

Kruszelnicki explains that while all people are different, addictions grab hold when the speed of delivery is increased, like the 20 seconds it takes nicotine to reach your brain after a drag on a cigarette or the even quicker hit from drugs like cocaine and heroin.

With fast food, the speed is on the delivery; between the desire for the ‘hit’ and the first bite into the burger laden with salt, sugar and fat that ordinarily would have taken you triple the amount of time to cook at home, giving a chance for the craving to pass and the lessening the chance of over-indulging.

Consumers understand Daily Food Intake Guides but don’t use them to make decisions

A new online survey has found almost 80 per cent of Australians are familiar with the Daily Intake Guide on food labels currently being promoted by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The Newspoll survey, commissioned by the AFGC, has added fuel to the fire in the debate over the Daily Intake Guide the AFGC wants and the traffic light labelling system consumer advocacy group Choice is calling for.

Daily Intake Guide labels use small symbols that detail the amount of energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in a standard portion of the food and how much of the average daily intake it makes up.

CHOICE wants to simplify further, with a Traffic Light labelling on products.

The AFGC’s Newspoll survey asked more than 1200 adults nationwide aged 18-64 and found that more than half of Australians think the Daily Intake Guide labels are useful, and over 60 per cent said they are “easy to read and understand”.

But it’s not all good news, as nearly half of respondents saying they did not use the guide to help them decide whether to buy the product.

Last week, national consumer advocacy group CHOICE again called for compulsory front-of-pack Traffic Light labelling on food products in Australia, which would feature red, green, or amber symbols on the label for each of the main nutrients in the product such as fat, sugars, and salt.

Choice says Traffic Light labelling will make it easier for consumers to choose a healthier food by comparing the colour codes between products, but AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell told Food Magazine the system is too simplistic and can be misleading.

“Some foods should be eaten in moderation while others can be eaten more regularly. The problem with traffic lights is people interpret red as stop – or don’t eat – and green as go – or eat as much as you like – neither is correct.

“For example, some dairy products and avocado would receive red traffic lights but they are important part of a nutritious, balanced diet.

“Traffic light labels categorise foods as good and bad – but all foods can form part of a balanced diet.”

“Changing food labels is expensive for industry and consumers – there’s no sanity for changing to traffic light labels over a system that’s already working, especially at a time when industry is under immense pressure from challenges right across the supply chain.”

Floating mammoth introduces new flavoured milk

 A new flavoured milk that promises longer lasting energy for health-conscious consumers has been released.

In a PR stunt to introduce Mammoth flavoured milk to the market, the company floated a giant mammoth above Sydney’s Heritage Fleet site last week.

To remove confusion, the company replaced the animal with a massive floating bottle of the flavoured milk which will be stocked in supermarket, service stations and convenience stores.

Senior brand manager, Katrina Wilson said the product will provide options for milk consumers.

“Our research showed there was a need in the flavoured milk market to manufacture a product which provides consumers with the longer lasting energey needed to sustain an active day,” she said.

Choice again calls for traffic light food labelling

The debate over the simple traffic light system on food packaging has ramped up again, with Choice calling for the practise to be mandatory.

With labels on foods more confusing than ever before, the red, green and amber colours on the front of packaging would make it easier for consumers to know the amount of the main nutrients, such as fat, sugars and salt in products.

The calls from Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group follow the report recently released about misleading claims on muesli, with some found to have double the fat content of a Quarter Pounder.

“A spoonful of muesli may be a mouthful of sugar and fat,” the Choice report said.

Of the 159 types of muesli available to consumers in Australia it tested, Choice found only ten brands met Australian food regulator FSANZ’s definition of “low fat”, defined as no more than 3 per cent fat.

Only 11 brands met FSANZ’s definition for “low sugar,” which is no more than 5 per cent sugars.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has disagreed with the traffic light system, saying it is too simplistic to work.

“Traffic light labels categorise foods as good and bad – but all foods can form part of a balanced diet, “AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said.

“Industry rejects traffic light labelling on the basis that it’s badly understood by consumers and the system has been rejected by countries around the world including in Europe.

“The Daily Intake Guide (DIG) is the labelling system preferred by the European Union and Canada.”

“Daily Intake Guide labels – which appear on more than 4000 supermarket products in Australia – outline the amount of energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in a standard portion of the food and how that translates to average daily intake.”

In June the AFGC welcomed the move by Woolworths to add DIG information to the foods it produces.

In the same month the European Parliament decided not to implement the traffic light labeling system, saying it was too unclear.

It was decided to focus more on clearly defining how much fat, carbohydrates, and sodium each product in European supermarkets contains.

More junk food ads, more nagging for parents: study

Are we creating a generation of naggers? New research out of the United States shows a direct correlation between cartoons on food boxes and the amount of pestering parents will receive from their children.

The placement of recognisable cartoons and figures on food boxes, like cereal packets, has been a successful tactic for decades.

According to new research in the Journal of Children and Media, the packaging, characters and commercials all make a difference to the amount of nagging the children will do.

Those children who watched more television advertisements were found to be more likely to nag for products with relatable characters on them, even if they did not like the food, the US ABC reports.

Not only did they nag more, but the kids who watched more TV had more varied forms of nagging – juvenile nagging, nagging to test boundaries and manipulative nagging.

Juvenile nagging consists is the repeated asking for items, whining and even flailing arms and stomping feet.

Children who nagged to test boundaries engaged in public tantrums and putting items in the cart even as their mother refused.

Manipulative nagging consists of sweet talking the mother, or arguing that they needed it because other children had it.

"Our study indicates that manipulative nagging and overall nagging increased with age,"

Holly Henry, a co-author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins said in a statement.

Researchers said mothers of 5-year-olds recalled more negative nagging experiences, researchers said.

The research is a timely addition to the debate about advertising junk food to children in Australia, particularly when they are still seeing advertisements for junk food left, right and centre, two years on from the voluntary marketing code against the practice.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council suggested to junk food advertisers in August 2009 that they should stop advertising unhealthy food choices during children’s programs and were also advised that maybe they shouldn’t aim the advertisements at the children.

But new reports have shown ads selling unhealthy food options on television are just as prevalent as they were before the code was introduced.

The number of fast food ads is even higher than it was before the code, and the amount of junk food ads seen on our screens hasn’t wavered.

Is anyone really surprised by this?

Did anyone really expect companies to voluntarily reduce their profits by not advertising their products to some of the most impressionable members of society?

The suggestions, not least from the Australian Medical Association, that the government should step in to ban junk food advertising targeted at children has been met with varying responses.

Some say the government involvement is a necessary measure to protect our children, while others argue the move would further increase the Nanny state Australia exists in.

The US study analysed surveys and interviews from 64 mothers with children between 3 and 5, who were asked questions about family eating and shopping habits, media use and how they dealt with nagging children.

"She picks up the characters by osmosis," one mother who took part in the study said of her 4-year-old daughter.

"It really became clear to me how much TV impacts his preferences when he asked me to go to Burger King and I said, ‘Why Burger King?’ and he replied he had seen it on TV,” another mother with a four year old said.

Co-author of the study Dina Boraekowski, associate professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said there is no doubt the advertising tactics work, but companies should be focused on using it more positively.

We know marketing works, so the trick is to make it work for healthier products," she said.
The most successful cartoons used included Dora the Explorer, Elmo, Spongebob and Scooby Doo.

"It’s been a battle with my child," said one mother. "No reward in whining."

"Giving in was consistently cited as one of the least-effective strategies," said Henry.

Almost 40 per cent of mothers said they tried to combat the nagging by limiting their child’s exposure to commercials, which researchers found was the most effective way to limit the nagging and consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks.

They also suggested explaining the marketing ploy to children, by telling them they would be tempted by products when they go shopping, but they may not be healthy.

"I don’t’ think marketing is going away anytime soon, said Borzekowski. "We need to help parents deal with the current situation."

On Monday, the Victorian government announced a Ministry of Food campaign, similar to the one implemented by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, to educate families about food and health.

The initiatives come after new figures revealed on in four Victorian primary school students are overweight or obese.

A $40 million program is being rolled out in key communities to offer families practical advice and classes on healthy eating, grocery shopping and lifestyle choices.

Image: News One