Today (June 14) ministers from around Australia met to discuss important health issues at the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation in Sydney.
One of the topics discussed was the proposal to introduce a food Health Star Rating to the front of packaging labels to better inform consumers about the nutritional quality of their food choices.
Yesterday, both the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Cancer Council Australia urged ministers to support the scheme, which they believe will help in the fight against obesity.
The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on obesity reveals that in the year 2011-12, 28.3 per cent of people aged 18 and over were classified as obese.
In a boon for the health industry, the ministers congratulated the efforts of health groups to develop the rating scheme, and issued their public support.
A statement released by parliamentary secretary for health and ageing Shayne Neumann reads: "Food Regulation Ministers noted that the system has significant potential to support consumers to make healthier food choices and acknowledged that FoPL [Front-of-Pack Labelling] is one tool in a suite of initiatives that will, in the long-term, contribute to alleviating the burden of chronic disease, overweight and obesity issues in Australia."
This is a positive outcome and is one that will likely be welcomed by the Cancer Council and the AMA.
Vice president of the AMA Professor Geoffrey Dobb said that if ministers agreed to support this scheme, it would be "a major step forward for public health".
Meanwhile, Cancer Council chief executive professor Ian Olver said that the star rating system, although voluntary, would put some power back into consumer's hands.
He asserted: "People want to make healthier food choices. The Health Star Rating scheme has the potential to guide healthier individual purchasing choices."
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Other topics discussed at today's forum included pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels and the review of the Central Interpretive Advice Service.