Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie says the proposed front of pack labelling scheme developed under Labor does not give a true depiction of a product’s health benefits and is not based on evidence of behavioural change.
During Senate estimates this week, Senator McKenzie’s questioning revealed the flawed application and assumptions of the front of pack labelling scheme, being considered by the Department of Health.
The system claims to give consumers complete health information ‘at a glance’ about the food they are buying, using a scale of half to five stars.
Senator McKenzie said despite their recognised health benefits, dairy products did not rate highly under the new scheme.
Australian Dairy Industry Council chairman Noel Campbell said the dairy industry was concerned that the star scheme could mean healthy products such as milk and cheese, recommended under the Australian Dietary Guidelines, were presented to consumers as an unhealthy option.
Senator McKenzie said research showed suitable intakes of dairy foods were linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases including heart disease, hypertension, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
“The fact that under this scheme a glass of water is less healthy than a Chiko Roll, calls into question the whole basis of the front of pack labelling scheme,” Senator McKenzie said.
When questioned on how the proposed scheme would influence consumers’ food choices, a Department of Health officer admitted that ‘there is very little research on whether or not a system actually changes behaviour’, Senator McKenzie said.
‘‘Consumers need a common sense approach to dietary information that is evidence-based,” Senator McKenzie said.
‘‘If implemented in its current form, this scheme would be damaging to the dairy industry and might not even work.’’
Media Contact: Kathleen Tonini mob: 0400530027