Nanny-staters think that people read labels
The few who do are probably careful about what they eat and drink anyway. The New York experience shows that the sort of labelling advocated below will achieve nothing. Do the brainiacs below think Australians are more sophisticated than New Yorkers? Good luck with that assumption
FOOD police would enforce labels showing nutritional value on packaging and cigarette-style health warnings on alcohol under changes recommended for national laws.
A report released yesterday to improve food labelling laws in Australia and New Zealand contains 61 recommendations, including dropping mandatory "per serve" columns while explicitly stating the inclusion of trans-fats and salt content.
The report, Labelling Logic, was commissioned by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council in October 2009 and compiled by a panel of independent experts, led by former federal health minister Dr Neal Blewett.
Information about food safety would be of primary importance followed by preventative health, new technologies such as genetic modification and lastly consumer values like "free range".
"The crux of the review was to address the tensions between competing interests that drive food labelling policy and seek to resolve them," Dr Blewett said.
Some of the recommendations call for food manufacturers to voluntarily adopt proposals such as a traffic light front-of-pack labelling system before they are legislated.
Food manufacturers attacked the traffic light recommendation, arguing there was a lack of consensus on the best way to label food. "The 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," Australian Food and Grocery Council CEO Kate Carnell said.
The Federal Government has until December to respond to the recommendations.
The State Government has welcomed the review, which recommends fast food chains and vending machines declare energy (kilojoule) content - a move introduced in New South Wales last November which takes effect from February 1.
Under the recommendations, country-of-origin labelling would be tightened along with mandatory identification of any food prepared or treated with new technologies.
Alcoholic beverages would have generic health warnings including specific messages about the risks of drinking while pregnant. Alcoholic drink labels would also have to reveal their energy content.