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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Australia
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Is it kilojoule worthy?

The Food Regulation Secretariat is reviewing the current menu labelling schemes in place around Australia.

It is particularly interested in the practical differences between States including who’s in and who’s out and how kilojoules are displayed. The intent remains how best to help customers make healthy choices, but there has been a lot of innovation since the scheme was introduced around meal delivery services, on-line ordering, customisation and rolling menu boards.

The current consultation is a good opportunity to champion national consistency and challenge unnecessary cost burdens on businesses that cross state borders.

This consultation is also a chance to call for fairness across businesses. What would make it a level playing field for everyone and also help more people make healthy choices? The current criteria for the exempt businesses tries to be make sure the burden of nutritional analysis and display is reasonable for businesses. But it also seeks to include those businesses that sell products where kilojoule labelling would make the biggest difference. Does this then mean that the type of business doesn’t count? Should the nature of a business be removed from the current way that businesses are exempt?

It’s a happy truth that when people eat fewer kilojoules of some foods it has the knock on effect of reducing some other nutrients of concern. But is the current kilojoule labelling the best way to help customers eat fewer kilojoules? Does it give them the right information, enough information, or too much? If kilojoule information is intended to encourage customers to choose appropriately sized portions for their energy needs, how do customers use it in the real world? Is a clearer call to action needed? Could more be done by Government in customer messaging?

As the Government prepares to roll out voluntary pledges for food business, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind when thinking about changes to menu labelling. Surely it’s best if all the Government’s public health and nutrition activities involving food businesses are streamlined and support each other.

This is the time to speak up and express your view. Submissions close on Friday 16th March and can be can be sent to FoodRegulationSecretariat@health.gov.au. A discussion paper with specific questions of interest is available at http://foodregulation.gov.au/

The Australian Food and Grocery Council is preparing a submission on behalf of the AFGC’s Quick Service Restaurant Forum.

To find out more about the AFGC Quick Service Restaurant Forum please contact Michele Walton at michele.walton@afgc.org.au  

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