Consumer Demands for Better Food Labelling Ignored by Health MinisterApril 16, 2018
A large number of health advocates and consumer groups have been urging for better information on sugar labelling across Australia. The current labels have been criticised for being too difficult for consumers to interpret exactly how much sugar is contained in the product. A recent campaign by Choice Australia indicates that the support for improved labelling has been overwhelming, with more than 20,000 consumers calling on their Health Minister to make the important decision about adding more informative sugar labelling to food packaging.
The Health Ministers are being criticised for siding with the food and beverage industry by delaying their decision on adding increased sugar labelling. One of the most significant drawbacks of the delay is that Australian consumers have no clear sense of how much sugar they are consuming.
Statistics indicate that Australian adults are consuming on average 14 teaspoons of added sugar per day, while teenagers are consuming a staggering amount of up to 22 teaspoons per day. This surplus of sugar consumption can amount to a wealth of health issues, including tooth decay, obesity and type two diabetes. The only way we can avoid such health risks is to drastically cut down our sugar intake. The World Health Organisation advises that we should all be reducing our added sugar consumption to less than 12 teaspoons per day maximum – and ideally less than 6 teaspoons.
If the Health Ministers were to reject the improvement of sugar labelling on the basis of protecting the food and beverage industry, it would deny consumers the opportunity to meet the targets set out by the World Health Organisation. And, more importantly, the over-consumption of sugar across Australia will continue to be a detriment to people’s health, from dentistry to diabetic risks.
It’s no impossible task to implement better sugar labelling across the country. In fact, many other countries have successfully done so. It will reflect badly on Australia’s Health Ministers if they are easily influenced by the food and beverage industry, instead of prioritising the health and wellbeing of the general public.
The major benefit of clearer sugar labelling is that consumers will be able to make informed decisions for themselves about what they are – in reality – putting into their bodies. The only way Australians can access this right to increased information is if we all group together and call on Health Ministers to put a stop to the unnecessary delay in passing this vital piece of legislation.
You can have your say by visiting the CHOICE campaign website: www.choice.com.au/addedsugar.