05 Sep, 2011 Last updated: 16 Oct, 2015

New research reveals 87% of grocery buyers in favour of traffic light labelling, as Obesity Policy Coalition launches new DIY traffic light label smartphone app.

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Research released by the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) reveals Australian grocery buyers are overwhelmingly (87%) in favour of clearer nutrition labels on packaged food in the form of traffic light ratings.

Jane Martin, senior policy advisor for the OPC, said consumers were sick of confusing and potentially misleading nutrition claims, like ‘fat-free’ on sugar-laden products, and had a right to clear information so they could make an informed choice about the foods they buy.

“Our research shows consumers want to know how much salt, sugar, saturated fat and total fat, is in the products they buy. Traffic light labels provide this information at a glance, and help shoppers sort the fat from the fiction,” Ms Martin said.

Traffic light labelling has the support of former Federal Health Minister Dr Neal Blewett. Dr Blewett chaired an expert group who conducted an independent review of food labelling law and policy in 2010. Their report, Labelling Logic, recommends placing front-of-pack traffic light labels on packaged food to help consumers make healthier choices.

To demonstrate how traffic light labels could work, the OPC has developed an application (“app”) for smart phones and tablets - the Traffic Light Food Tracker.

The app gives a traffic light rating of high - red, medium - amber or low - green for the amount of sodium, sugars, total fat and saturated fat per 100g in packaged foods.

The OPC encourages people to download the app from either the Apple Appstore or Android marketplace and to support clearer food labelling by emailing their state health minister, all of whom are members of the ministerial council tasked with reviewing the recommendations in Dr Blewett’s Labelling Logic report. Emails can be sent through the OPC’s website: www.opc.org.au.

The launch today takes place ahead of the second Public Health and Consumer roundtable discussion, during which stakeholders are invited to give their response to the recommendations.

“We hope that members of the Council will take into account both the strong public support and the recommendations in Dr Blewett’s report, and decide to make traffic light labelling mandatory on all packaged food,” Ms Martin said.

Michelle Winchester, a parent of three and advocate for Parents’ Voice, said clearer food labelling would help parents cut through marketing hype and understand and compare the nutrition quality of foods

“As a parent I know how easy is to be swayed by nutrition claims, particularly on foods marketed towards children. I want to be able to easily identify the nutritional content of the food I buy, in order to make the best choices for me and my family.

“Traffic light labels would show me this information at a glance. It would also help me teach my children to cut through the packaging hype and make healthier choices themselves!”

About the Obesity Policy Coalition

The Obesity Policy Coalition is a group of leading public health agencies who are concerned about the escalating levels of overweight and obesity, particularly in children.
The Obesity Policy Coalition partners include Diabetes Australia Victoria, The Cancer Council Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University.