Product labelling, Consumer Information & Education
Our members want to provide consumers with the choice and information that empowers them to make decisions for a healthy life. We accept the importance of clarity, transparency and fact‑based information. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code provides the regulatory framework for delivering a whole range of information, including:
- Ingredient labelling
- Date marking
- Storage and use instructions
- Nutrition information
- Characterising ingredients
- Warning and advisory statements and declarations [link to Allergen labelling below]
- Manufacturer details (Australia or New Zealand)
In addition to mandatory labelling, food manufacturers undertake a range of voluntary labelling, including the Health Star Rating.
Healthy Kids Industry Pledge
The Ministry of Health’s Healthy Kids Industry Pledge commits industry, where appropriate, to the following:
- consider options for innovation and the reformulation of products to ensure children and their families have easy access to healthier food options
- continue to enhance labelling to help families make healthy choices for their children, including supporting the Government’s health star ratings (see more later in this article)
- continue to provide fact-based information to help families make healthy choices for their children (see more later in this article)
- support responsible marketing, advertising, and sponsorship of foods to children that supports healthy nutrition
- support the Government's efforts to address differences in health outcomes for different population groups, particularly Māori and Pacific peoples
- identify and communicate specific activities that we will undertake within our business, and publicly report on our progress.
Many of these elements continue to be addressed in FGC’s Healthier New Zealanders Initiative and reflected in the ‘Healthy Balance’ website.
Companies that have specifically signed up to the Pledge and to communicating this publicly include:
- Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola joins industry healthy kids pledge
- Nestle: Supporting a healthy future
- Fonterra: Healthy kids industry pledge
- Frucor Suntory: Frucor Suntory commits to Healthy Kids pledge
- Sanitarium: Fighting Lifestyle Disease
Innovation and Reformulation, Enhancing labelling for healthy choices and HSR
Taken together, these areas are integral to continued refreshing of foods and food packaging and the industry’s uptake of HSR.
Health Star Rating
Many member companies are progressively applying the Health Star Rating system to their products. This is a voluntary front of pack labelling system underpinned by Government development of both the eligible foods algorithm and parameters for applying the Health Star Ratings icons.
The ‘Health Star Rating’ system is about making it quicker and easier for New Zealand consumers to make better informed, healthy food choices.
The Health Star Rating system uses a star rating scale of half a star to 5 stars. Foods with more stars have better nutritional value within their category. The system also includes nutrient information icons for energy (kilojoules), saturated fat, sodium (salt), and sugars, and can include one beneficial nutrient such as calcium or fibre.
Industry expertise is represented on the Ministerial HSR Advisory Group website page. The industry is continuing to consider global developments on front-of-pack labelling and provide advice on evaluation of the HSR. FGC has submitted on the policy and the five-year evaluation (see the ‘Submissions’ section on this website).
FGC monitors industry uptake of member companies and reports each quarter to the Ministry for Primary Industries on member uptake. Member trend analysis is reflected in the following graph:
As at 31 March 2018, more than 3750 products in supermarkets had Health Stars on their labels. Some 2003 of those were from FGC-member companies, while the remainder were the home brands of both Foodstuffs and Countdown, and non-FGC members.
FGC member company products carrying HSR as at 31 March 2018 are:
For more information about Health Star Ratings see the Ministry for Primary Industries website: Health Star Ratings
Consumers looking for the sugar content of packaged foods need look no further than the back of the package at:
- the ingredients list
- the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP)
Ingredients are listed by ingoing weight, so the order of sugar will show its weight in relation to all other ingredients. This doesn’t tell consumers how much sugar is in the product, but the NIP does.
The NIP requires “sugars” to be separately identified under “Carbohydrate, total” on the panel, together with the amount per serve and the amount per 100g/100ml.
Irrespective of the source of sugar, the body uses all sugars in the same way, so comparing the sugar content of products can be easily done from the panel.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) completed a ‘Technical evaluation for Labelling Review Recommendation 12 – ingredient labelling of added sugars, added fats and added vegetable oils’ in June 2016 at the request of Ministers responsible for Food in New Zealand and Australia.
FSANZ reported that “While the order of the statement of ingredients provides an indication of the contribution of an ingredient to a food, based on its ingoing weight, the amount it contributes is not quantified. It is therefore limited … On the other hand, the NIP provides quantified nutritional information to assist consumers make decisions about dietary intakes of nutrients (e.g. sugars and fat) or energy, and to compare the nutritional content of food products.”
Healthy Balance website
Information to help families make healthy choices in the diet
NZFGC supports the Healthy Balance website (http://healthybalance.nz/). Fresh material is regularly loaded on this website and the Healthy Balance Facebook page. This is an initiative from NZFGC aimed at presenting practical, evidence-based advice on food, fitness and healthy lifestyles for New Zealanders.
The website covers a wide range of topics from simple facts about fat, salt and sugar to information on pulses, grains, snacking and making small but healthy changes to your diet.
Recent additions are:
- Cracking Good Crackers – an insight into the range of healthier crackers that are on the market
- Going Nutty About Nuts – just what are they and why should we eat more of them
- Breads – varieties and what they offer; how are they fermented. Sourdough/spelt bread etc
- Proactive margarine – how does it work in lowering cholesterol
- Nutritional upsides of chicken; beef; lamb; fish
- Drinks – cold teas; herb teas; kombucha; coconut water
Heart Foundation Tick
The Heart Foundation Tick has been a trusted symbol for over 21 years, helping New Zealanders easily identify healthier food choices. The Tick programme was initiated in the absence of any similar tool that consumers might use to assist them to make dietary related food choices. The announcement that the Heart Foundation was retiring the Tick programme was made in October 2016. At that time, the logo was on more than 1000 products in 60 food categories.
NZFGC participates in the Allergen Collaboration, an industry/NGO/government collaboration. The collaboration provides for sharing information and developing common approaches to enhance the effectiveness of risk management of food allergens.
The objective is to support consumers to make safer food choices. Membership includes Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Allergy New Zealand, Restaurant Association of New Zealand, New Zealand retailers Foodstuffs and Progressive, and the Ministry for Primary Industries, along with several similar Australian groups.
This collaboration established a portal in 2013 as a one-stop-shop for food allergy resources - with information on managing food allergies for consumers, industry, schools and childcare centres, medical professionals and government. It provides links for key stakeholder groups to best practice information including a suite of key messages and a free training view for food service staff.
The portal provides access to best practice information to help stakeholders manage food allergens.
Food allergen portal (resources)
NZFGC is well aware that food allergies can be life threatening. For this reason, food law requires mandatory labelling of allergens to help people who have a food allergy to avoid food allergens. There are many different groups and people across New Zealand, besides the food industry, which participate in assisting the management of food allergies, such as health professionals and schools.
The food allergen portal is hosted by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and provides different sectors in the community with links to best practice food allergen resources and key messages to promote in the different sectors.
Information for the food industry can be found in the portal here.
The portal also provides access for consumers, childcare centres and schools, health professionals, government organisations and a link to current recalls.
The Allergen Bureau is the peak industry body representing food industry allergen management in Australia and New Zealand. Its mission is consistent, science-based, allergen risk assessment and labelling.
The overall objective of the Allergen Bureau is to share information and experience within the food industry on the management of food allergens to ensure consumers receive relevant, consistent and easy-to-understand information on food allergens.
The Allergen Bureau runs the VITAL program (the Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling Program), which is a standardised allergen risk assessment process for food industry.
Carrying out a VITAL risk assessment using the VITAL tools – including VITAL Online – assists a food company to thoroughly review the allergen status of all the ingredients and the processing conditions that contribute towards the allergen status of the finished product.
[page last updated 13-02-2018]