A big win and some small steps to improve labelling
20 July 2020
The Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation met last week to discuss changes to food and alcohol labelling. This was an important meeting, including decisions on changes to pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages and the Health Star Rating system.
Firstly, Ministers supported a new effective pregnancy warning label on alcoholic beverages after years of advocacy by public health groups, medical groups and professionals, individuals and communities. The red, black and white warning labels will be mandated for all alcoholic beverages to inform women of the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.
ACDPA is strongly supportive of these labelling changes to prevent Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) - an entirely preventable condition.
Ministers also agreed on changes to the Health Star Rating system. The decisions include some positive steps to improve the system governance and labelling, as well as some smaller steps to improve the calculator and increase uptake of the star rating on products.
ACDPA supports changes to labelling that include removing the energy icon and giving 5 stars to all minimally processed fruits and vegetables. While there are some improvements to the treatment of sugar and salt in the new calculator, this could have been stronger to better align with the Australian Dietary Guidelines and limit the impact of these risk nutrients in unhealthy diets. It is a small step towards improving the calculator and will need to be closely monitored and re-assessed if it is not achieving the desired impact.
Read the Ministerial Forum communique.
At the same time ACDPA welcomes Minister Hunt's announcement to review and update the Australian Dietary Guidelines, taking into account the most recent evidence to provide guidance and support healthy eating by Australians.