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Obesity expert questions government–industry food reformulation push


Doug Hendrie


26/07/2018 3:15:03 PM

The Obesity Policy Coalition executive director has questioned the Federal Government’s industry partnership on voluntary reformulation of junk food.

Obesity Policy Coalition executive director Jane Martin believes governments should set clear targets for manufacturers and retailers to help reduce foods’ saturated fats, sugars and salt.
Obesity Policy Coalition executive director Jane Martin believes governments should set clear targets for manufacturers and retailers to help reduce foods’ saturated fats, sugars and salt.

Obesity Policy Coalition Executive Director Jane Martin told newsGP her group has concerns regarding the food industry’s role in the partnership.  
 
The Healthy Food Partnership’s proposed Reformulation Program has moved to a consultation phase, calling on the public to respond to potential targets for saturated fats, sugars and salt.
 
However, Ms Martin said the industry–government model had not worked well in the past.
 
‘International experience shows that when reformulation targets are strong and government-led, change can be achieved,’ she said.
 
Ms Martin said the UK’s voluntary push to reduce salt intake had worked because targets were set with a deadline, and manufacturers had to report whether they had met the reduction or not.
 
‘This proposal has no name-and-shame. We’d like government to set clear targets for manufacturers and retailers,’ she said.
 
‘[Targets] need to be reported on, and they need to apply to all food manufacturers, not just those who sign up.
 
‘Everyone’s tastes would adapt if [all producers] reduced salt. That’s why it’s better if it’s across the board.’
 
Ms Martin has instead called on GPs to engage with a separate Australia and New Zealand government push to make product labels list the sugars added during the production process.
 
‘The sugar labelling push is regulatory – so something will happen,’ she said. ‘It will result in change, and industry will be dictated to by government as to what to do.
 
‘For GPs to influence [policy] in a meaningful way, we’re prioritising that.’
 
The sugar labelling consultation period ends on 19 September, and the reformulation consultation ends on 12 November.
 
Federal Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said the consultations are an important part of developing the Reformulation Program.
 
‘[W]e want to know the views of all Australians, whether they are from the food industry, the public health sector or any other interested groups,’ she said.
 
The move comes after major soft-drink companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi pledged to reduce sugar use across their range over the next seven years.



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