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Front-of-pack labelling gets more support in Australia

By Ankush Chibber , 19-Mar-2014

Front-of-pack labelling gets more support in Australia

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, which is one of Australia’s biggest health unions, has thrown its weight behind a front-of-pack labelling system for food sold in Australia.

The ANMF, with over 233,000 members, is the peak industry body for nurses, midwives and assistants in the country’s nursing sector.

Lee Thomas, its federal secretary, said that a simpler, more transparent system of food labelling would lead Australian consumers to make good food choices.

This in turn might result in a decrease in the growing levels of obesity and related chronic health illnesses, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, she said.

“The nation is experiencing an obesity epidemic with half of all adult Australians now overweight,” said Thomas. “As frontline healthcare professionals, nurses and midwives see the devastating consequences of obesity, from children through to older Australians and in particular parts of the population, such as Indigenous communities.”

Thomas said that the ANMF will stand strong with other health and consumer stakeholders in calling for the introduction of clear, comprehensible food labelling, like the star rating system.

“Opponents of the system must surely realise that Australian consumers have the right to know what they are ingesting,” she said.

“The ANMF believes the current food labelling system could be simplified to assist consumers who quite often are making food choices while standing in supermarket isles doing their shopping.

“Regulators must work with the government and consumers to make it easier for people to make informed, decisions about the foods and drinks they are choosing for themselves and their families.

“We believe there’s now a real need for a front of pack system of labelling which will be an important way of fighting obesity across the community—starting at the supermarket shelf.”

The ANMF’s support comes after the government’s star rating food health website went live last month but was removed just hours later, amid claims by opponents that its launch was premature.