Emerging food policy issues – a consumer perspective. Presentation to the Food Regulation Standing Committee 2010 Stakeholder Consultation Forum. Clare Hughes Senior Food Policy Officer. Overview. Review of food labelling law and policy Labelling to support public health strategies
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Emerging food policy issues – a consumer perspective Presentation to the Food Regulation Standing Committee 2010 Stakeholder Consultation Forum Clare Hughes Senior Food Policy Officer
Overview • Review of food labelling law and policy • Labelling to support public health strategies • Labelling for provide other consumer information • Government intervention • Enforcing food regulation
Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy Questions raised by the food labelling review: • Should food labelling be used to support public health objectives? If so, how? • Are food labelling laws needed to regulate other consumer information on food labels? • To what extent do governments need to be responsible for regulating what’s on food labels? • Can a national agency enforce food labelling laws? If so, which one?
Food labelling policy An overarching food labelling policy should set out the role of food labelling regulation in: • Supporting public health objectives and preventative health strategies • Protecting public health and safety • Providing information to help consumers make informed choices about the foods they buy • Preventing misleading and deceptive labelling
How can food labelling laws support public health objectives? The following improvements to food labelling laws will help to support public health objectives: • Mandatory front of pack nutrition labelling including traffic lights for key nutrients of concern • Health and nutrition content claims regulation using nutrient profiling criteria • Labelling alcohol products • Nutrition information in quick service outlets • Ingredient information such as trans fat and palm oil
‘Other’ consumer information Consumers are increasingly interested in how and where their food is produced: • Country of origin labelling • GM labelling laws • Palm oil labelling Bill • Australian Standard on Organic and Biodynamic Product • Free-range
BUT Consumers use this ‘other’ information to make healthy choices for themselves and their family. We must recognise their ‘right to know’.
Government intervention When should governments regulate? • Overarching food labelling policy direction • Consumer detriment – safety, long-term health, financial • Consumer confidence in the food regulatory system and food supply • Consumer expectation of government oversight • Consumer demand for and use of specific labelling elements • Track record of industry non-compliance and misleading claims
Enforcing food regulation A single national agency would need: • Independence from the food industry • Strong legislation establishing enforcement powers • A full suite of enforcement tools and penalties for different infringements • Expertise in food labelling, nutrition, food regulation and consumer protection law • Sufficient funding and capacity to undertake enforcement across a range of labelling issues including proactive compliance monitoring
For more information: www.choice.com.au for our research and submissions on: • Food labelling claims • Organic and free-range food • Food endorsement logos • Traffic light labelling • Food Labelling Review