In the midst of the debate between the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and Choice over the labelling of foods, a smartphone application with the controversial traffic light system has been released by the Obesity Policy Coalition.
Choice has been calling for mandatory front-of-pack traffic light labelling on all foods sold in Australia to allow consumers to see at a glance whether the food they’re purchasing is high in fats, sugars or sodium.
But the AFGC says the system is too simplistic and doesn’t consider factors such as good fats and natural sugars.
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.”
The Obesity Policy Coaliton says its research has shown almost 90 per cent of shoppers want clearer nutrition labelling on food, particularly packaged foods.
Just like the traffic light system being promoted by Choice, the smartphone application will have a red signal for foods that should be avoided or eaten very occasionally, amber will advise shoppers to proceed with caution and green will be those foods safe to eat often.
The Coalition’s senior policy advisor, Jane Martin, says consumers are tired of confusing and misleading nutritional claims, including ‘fat-free’, ‘light, and ‘low fat’.
“Our research shows consumers want to know how much salt, sugar, saturated fat and total fat is in the products they buy,” she said.
“Traffic light labels provide this information at a glance, and help shoppers sort fat from fiction.”
From today the application which allows the user to insert the values of total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium for an immediate red, amber or green rating will be available for iPhone and Android smartphones.
The Coalition’s advocacy campaign has joined Choice in pushing for traffic light labelling to be mandatory on all packaged food products sold in Australia.
The former federal health minister Neal Blewett last year led an independent review of food-labelling law and policy, which recommended that the traffic light labelling system be implemented on front of packaged foods.
But producers argues that the 100 gram serving used in the assessment is usually considerably larger than the recommended serving size.
The AGGC says the Daily Intake Recommendation Guide gives a far more descriptive summary of the contents of foods, and a survey commissioned by the council found NUMBER of cosumers understand the mandatory panel on foods.
But late last week it was found that while most people understand the guide, few use it to help them make healthier food choices.
Image: WA Today
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