Traffic-light food labelling 'an option'

Food LabelThe government is considering introducing a traffic-light colour coded system on packaging to indicate if a food is healthy.

The proposal was debated at a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council in Sydney, which was chaired by Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Christopher Pyne.

The council, which includes ministers responsible for food issues in Australia and New Zealand, is considering a plan to introduce nutrition labelling on the front of packs.

One option would be a "traffic light labelling similar to one in the UK, that provides consumers at a glance information about nutritional content of foods", a council statement said.

Under a voluntary scheme adopted by the UK government's Food Standards Agency earlier this year, supermarkets and manufacturers are encouraged to indicate the level of fat, saturates, sugar and salt in food by using red, amber and green colour codes.

The council has ordered an inquiry into whether a uniform front-of-pack food labelling system would be an effective health strategy, and whether the traffic light system is the best labelling option.

The council also received an update from Food Standards Australia New Zealand on its review of the level of trans fatty acids in Australian food, which will be presented at the next meeting in May next year.

It also considered changing the current zero tolerance approach to the regulation of residues of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in food.