The United States is “catching up” to Australian standards after its food regulator decided on the phasing out of trans fats over the next three years,
Declaring the Australian food industry had been a “global leader in removing trans fats from the… diet”, the Australian Food and Grocery Council said the US was now catching up to Australian standards following the latter’s “successful” self-regulation of trans fats.
Through this approach, said Gary Dawson, the AGFC’s chief executive, Australia has cut the amount of trans fats, which are linked to heart disease and cancer and have been all but banned in a number of European countries, in the national diet to extremely low levels.
This view is widely accepted, even among nutritionists. They they say the bigger problem Australia faces surrounds saturated fat, which is being consumed in greater quantities than trans fats.
The AGFC has been arguing that the consumption of trans fats is already much lower in Australia than it is in the US, removing any need for an outright ban in this country.
“Australians typically obtain around 0.6% of their daily kilojoules from trans fats. Of this, about half comes from naturally occurring sources. This is well under the World Health Organisation recommendation to consume less than 1% of daily kilojoules in the form of trans fats,” said Dawson.
Four years ago, a government-funded panel recommended that trans fatty acids should be phased out of the country's food supply by this month. Neither this move, nor the introduction of the labelling of large quantities of trans fats, which was also recommended by the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy in 2011.
Government needs to ‘protect’ country’s image from counterfeiters
Recognising the growing problem of food faking, Australian food producers and exporters have urged the government to do more to protect the nation’s image against a rising tide of counterfeit food good.
Operators from Asia and the Middle East have been taking advantage of Australia’s reputation for quality food by counterfeiting labels and packaging to sell their own potentially unsafe products in international markets, ABC Radio found.
One company told the station: “The Australian image is very, very important and if we lose the fact that our food is safe because it’s been counterfeited, that’s going to really affect Australia’s reputation in the world. It definitely should have been raised amongst the free trade agreement discussions.”
Most consumers think of Asian counterfeit handbags and designer clothes, but now “that problem is exacerbated by food quality” the head of an anti-counterfeiting security company told ABC.
“There is an enormous amount of counterfeit or sub-standard food being sold, especially throughout Asia.
“Australian products are highly prized because they come from a country where the provenance of goods is not in question.”
SMH calls for 'comprehensive obesity strategy’
In an editorial, the Sydney Morning Herald has branded the Australian government as “strangely complacent” about its looming obesity emergency which “will place a super-sized burden on taxpayers”.
Predicting that almost three-quarters of Australians will be overweight or obese in 10 just years, the paper highlights the success Mexico seems to have been having after it imposed a 10% “sugar tax” on non-dairy and non-alcoholic drinks that contained added sugar.
The paper said measures like Australia’s Health Star Rating system and increased physical activity should be incorporated into a “comprehensive obesity strategy at a time when cuts in the federal government's support for preventative health programs via the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health and an advertising landscape that fails to protect our youngsters from the seductive messages of the junk food industry”.