In August 2019 the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) agreed to a program of activities under Priority two of the food regulation system to contribute towards reducing chronic disease related to obesity. One of these activities was to develop a Policy Guideline on food labelling to support consumers to make informed healthy choices (Policy Guideline).
The Policy Guideline will provide strategic guidance to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) about the Forum’s expectations about food labelling in relation to supporting consumers to make healthy choices. The Policy Guideline will support current and future food labelling topics to be considered through a whole-of-diet approach that uses the Dietary Guidelines as a principle focus and helps ensure that any emphasis on food labels about a particular nutrient or food is justified by the recommendations in the Australian and New Zealand Dietary Guidelines.
Policy guidelines aim to improve outcomes for all by making clear and unambiguous the policy principles that apply to jurisdictions and bodies making food regulations. The creation of a policy guideline does not trigger regulatory action by FSANZ or changes to current food labelling. However, when FSANZ is developing or reviewing food regulatory measures, a written policy guideline is one of a number of matters to which it must have regard (as outlined in the FSANZ Act 1991).
Why We Are Consulting
Australia and New Zealand share a joint system for food labelling which is overseen by the Forum. The Forum is responsible for developing food regulation policy in the form of policy guidelines and to ensure stakeholder views are considered on proposed policies.
In August 2019 the Forum referred two pieces of work to FSANZ: labelling of sugars on packaged foods and drinks, and energy labelling on alcoholic beverages. In both of these pieces of work it was noted that current food labelling requirements were limiting consumers’ opportunity to make informed choices in support of the Dietary Guidelines.
A written policy guideline is one of a number of matters to which FSANZ must have regard developing or reviewing food regulatory measures. This Policy Guideline will give strategic guidance and outline the Forum’s expectations to FSANZ when it is considering the sugars labelling and energy labelling pieces of work and other future labelling related issues.
Food labelling information should provide consumers the opportunity to identify foods that contribute to healthy dietary patterns, as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines. The Policy Guideline aims to support this objective.
A public online consultation was held from 25 November 2019 and closed on 2 February 2020.
The Consultation Report: Policy Guideline on food labelling to support consumers to make informed healthy food choices is available below in both word and pdf format:
Consultation Report Policy Guideline on food labelling to support consumers to make informed healthy food choices (Word 337 KB)
Consultation Report Policy Guideline on food labelling to support consumers to make informed healthy food choices (PDF 693 KB)
On 21 August 2020, the Forum endorsed the Policy Guideline on Food Labelling to Support Consumers Make Informed Health Choices.