Possible food packaging restrictions on the horizon in
An interesting development in food packaging has arisen in
Australia recently. Prior to the recent Federal election, the Labor
Government called for a new and voluntary 'star rating
system' for food packaging. The star rating system was designed
to provide a simple, visual means of communicating the fat, sodium,
sugar and overall kilojoule content of a packaged food item to
Labels would feature a possible five star rating for foods, with
more stars indicating that the product is a better nutritional
choice than a product with fewer stars. It would apply to most
packaged foods, with the exception of soft drinks and
confectionery, which would only be required to display kilojoule
The former Government proposed a voluntary system which would
become mandatory in two years if it was not implemented widely by
the industry during that time. The system was agreed to by the
former Government Ministers responsible for food regulation in June
2013, however it is unclear whether the new Coalition Government
will follow through with its implementation.
We see this as another step toward increased government
regulation of food and beverage packaging driven by public health
and a desire for informed consumer choice. It is also part of the
broader global trend to regulate packaging – particularly the
packaging of 'unhealthy' products.
Other examples of increased government regulation:
In 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to
successfully implement plain cigarette packaging featuring large
graphic health warnings. This initiative has been followed by
Ireland, and now potentially Canada and the UK.
In June 2013, the UK Government introduced a voluntary
'traffic light system' of food labelling to show how much
fat, salt and sugar an item contains. Despite its voluntary nature,
the UK Government has obtained strong support from the main
supermarket chains and some of the biggest snack food
In a first step towards the mandatory nutritional labelling of
liquor, the US Government introduced voluntary nutritional labels
in June 2013, which alcoholic beverage companies could choose to
use on their products.
In September 2012, the New York Board of Health moved to
restrict soda serving sizes in restaurants and other venues,
however that initiative was recently successfully challenged in the
New York Supreme Court.
If the Coalition Government decides to implement the star
rating system or something similar, it would be a significant win
for consumer groups, and is likely to create difficulties for
manufacturers who produce products which would achieve low star
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