Government Encouraging a More Efficient Product Labelling System

The Australian government is currently in the process of developing a more efficient product labelling system for consumers
January 17, 2015

The Australian government is currently in the process of developing a more efficient product labelling system for consumers. 
The aim of this initiative is to encourage healthier choices by making product labelling easier to read and understand.

The two projects currently underway in light of this initiative are a simplified nutritional information panel (NIP) and the Health Star Rating system. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has opened itself up for suggestions from the public on how it can make food nutrition labels easier and less time-consuming to read, while, the government has relaunched its Health Star Rating system, which is intended to provide a star rating to food products based on their overall nutritional value.

Simplifying the Nutritional Information Panel

FSANZ is currently in the process of simplifying product nutritional information panels. It believes that the revised panel will be easier for consumers to read and understand, creating a more efficient shopping experience, and encouraging consumers to take the time to analyse products and make healthier choices.

The current focus of the project is the removal of the ‘per serving’ panel. FSANZ Chief Executive Officer, Steve McCutcheon, believes the only panel necessary is that which relays the nutritional information per 100 grams or per 100 millilitres. He advocates that this should be the only mandatory panel, and that providing the ‘per serving’ panel should be optional to manufacturers. McCutcheon also recommended that providing the amount of nutrients per serving should not be necessary unless a daily intake claim is also made.

FSANZ is now turning to the public for further suggestions and input on the simplification and presentation of the nutritional information panel.

About the Health Star Rating System

The Health Star Rating system (HSR) was designed to save consumers time analysing product information by simplifying product nutritional information into a score of one to five stars. The higher a product’s rating, the higher its nutritional value and the healthier a choice it is deemed to be.

The website for the HSR system was taken down shortly after its initial launch due to controversy over a contributing Health Department official’s affiliation with Cadbury, Kraft, and the Australian Beverages Council. It was believed that his affiliation with these companies could have the potential to lead him into publish misleading information on their brands on the HSR website.

Newly relaunched, the HSR website aims to provide consumers with information on how to effectively use the Health Star Rating system to improve their shopping experience.

Use of the system will be voluntary for manufacturers for the next five years, however it is hoped that it will quickly gain popularity amongst both consumers and producers and contribute to a rise in healthier living.