The Guardian November 15, 2000


Food labelling in jeopardy

by Mati English

On November 24, Australian and New Zealand Health Ministers will be voting 
on proposals to substantially weaken legal requirements for the labelling 
of food products. The proposed legislative changes have been recommended by 
the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA).

Under the proposed changes food companies would not, for example, be 
obliged to put sugar and fat content on their packaging.

It would only be necessary if the manufacturer made a specific claim, such 
as "this product is low in sugar" or "low in fat".

Kellogg's is one of the companies which is strongly supporting the move to 
change the existing labelling.

At present they are required to indicate sugar and fat content.

When news of the proposed changes hit the airwaves, Kellogs came in for 
heavy criticism.

Consumers who rang up radio stations to express their opposition to the 
proposed changes pointed out that it was extremely important to know the 
content of the food that they, and their families were eating.

For many people it is not only a question of a healthy diet  but a matter 
of life or death. Diabetics, for example, need to know the sugar content of 
food.

As many callers pointed out, the increase in heart disease and diabetes is 
closely linked with fat and sugar consumption and consumers should at least 
be able to decide on a healthier diet.

Some of the flavoured "cereals" on the supermarket shelves such as Coco 
Pops are almost 40 percent sugar  and parents should be aware of this 
when being harangued by children who want whatever was being advertised on 
TV.

We've been told that many young people are overweight, even obese, and at 
the same time Health Ministers seem to think that manufacturers' interests 
are more important than those of the people they are supposed to represent 
and whose health they are supposed to protect!

A number of irate consumers were blunt and called for boycotting the 
products which are produced by manufacturers who want to hide nutritional 
facts.

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