Alarm bells are ringing loudly for Australian food and grocery manufacturers, if a proposed new mandatory traffic lights labelling system is introduced in December, 290,000 employees are at risk, half of them in regional and rural Australia.
The Neal Blewitt chaired Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy report entitled Labelling Logic recommends that a multiple traffic lights labelling system be introduced on all Australian products. If implemented this mandatory labelling system could threaten Australian jobs, manufacturing and innovation and confuse consumers with no likely improvements in healthier food consumption.
“The Australian and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (FSANZ) report makes a number of recommendations 51, 52 and 53 on Traffic Light labelling that go too far and could impact adversely on a number of industries in Australia,” Senator Boswell said. The Report’s recommendations will be voted on at the next Ministerial Council meeting in December and requires the votes of four Australian states for multiple traffic lights labelling to be implemented in every state and territory.
“The implications of these proposed Labelling Laws are of such a concern that I will move a resolution at the Nationals Federal Convention stating that:
The Federal branch of the National Party would like to lend its support to the Australian food industry and its endeavours to create more innovative and healthier products for Australian, and overseas consumers.
We resolve that the industry be allowed to continue to improve its product without being unfairly hindered by new labelling laws and health traffic light system warnings on the labelling, that will confuse and misinform the public.
Under the Traffic Light system, products as diverse as Low GI sugar, tinned pears, fruit juice, chocolate and low-fat margarine will be required to impose bright traffic light symbols even when there are clear benefits to these products. Consumers could also be faced with the confusing situation where products contain two red lights and two green lights labels.
“This is an illogical recommendation given that no country in the world has introduced a mandatory multiple traffic light labelling system and that as recently as June 2010 the European Union rejected a traffic lights system,” Senator Boswell said. Queensland’s largest agricultural crop and one of Australia’s most important rural industries, sugar will be at risk if traffic lights labelling is introduced. Sugar is vital to the Queensland and Australian economy and supports over 4000 sugarcane farmers.
“Under the report’s recommendations a mandatory traffic lights front- of- pack labelling system would be required on all sugar products. All sugar products including, Low GI Sugar, and lower calorie white and raw sugar blends as well as products containing natural producing sugars, fructose would be required to impose bright traffic lights symbols.
“The proposed health traffic light system warning will only confuse and misinform the public. Consumers will not be able to differentiate between one product or the other at a time when the Australian sugar industry is creating more innovative and healthier products for Australian and overseas consumers.
The Daily Intake Guide (DIG) is the labelling system preferred by the European Union. DIG front-of-pack labels outline the amount of energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in a standard portion of the food and how that translates to average daily intake.
“The introduction of the traffic light scheme could affect jobs in Australian industries, and push businesses offshore and ultimately lead consumers to make poorer choices rather than better choices.
“Now is not the time to introduce a confusing labelling system that will only hurt Australian industries already reeling from a high Australian dollar and facing a economy wide carbon tax,” Senator Boswell.