Posted by: Neil Willis
In a first for Australia, all major NSW fast food retailers will need to display the energy (kilojoule) information of their products on their menu boards under new laws that come into effect on Tuesday February 1, Primary industries Minister Steve Whan said today.
"This requirement marks the next step in the road towards improving health and reducing the incidence of obesity and overweight in NSW," Minister Whan said.
"It is important to note that the legislation incorporates a 12 month implementation period into the roll out of this initiative to allow time for business to properly comply."
The new laws mean:
Businesses such as major fast food, bakery, coffee and doughnut chains (with 20 or more stores in NSW or 50 or more national stores) will be required to clearly and legibly place the kilojoule content on their menu board as well as prominently featuring the average adult daily energy intake of 8700kj; and
The kilojoule content must be adjacent to the price of the product and be at least the same size as the price of the product.
"The public can expect to see these changes progressively implemented over the next 12 months," Minister Whan said.
"The NSW Food Authority is helping industry understand the required changes through meetings, fact sheets and assistance materials. The 12-month implementation period also gives industry time to develop new menu boards and incorporate changes into their standard menu board update cycles.
"Given 4.5 million Australians eat at a fast food outlet every day, we are responding to the growing call for people wanting accessible and understandable information about the food they’re eating.
"No one can hide behind a ‘healthy image’ that is nothing more than marketing hype. Genuine nutritional data clearly available at the point of purchase will help consumers understand what they are eating.
"Support materials will also be available for consumers to help them understand the new labelling. An initial website for consumers will be available on 1 February 2011. This will be enhanced through the year and further education materials will be prepared."
This initiative was introduced following the NSW Government’s Fast Food Forum held last year in response to community concern about the relationship between the epidemic of obesity and overweight in NSW and consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor fast foods.
Following the NSW Government’s announcement of the initiative, the Ministerial Council agreed that all Australians should have access to such nutritional information, and requested its Standing Committee to prepare advice on a national approach by mid 2011 that could guide the display of nutrition information in standard fast food chain restaurants. This work has already begun.
"NSW is leading the way when it comes to tackling this problem and we are committed to ongoing evaluation and assessment of the program.
"The contribution and cooperation of industry, health and consumer experts and other stakeholders has been invaluable to this process and we will seek continued participation of a Stakeholder Reference Group."
The legislation requires a review of the initiative and tabling of its report in Parliament by 1 February 2013. This review will include the investigation of broadening the requirements to include other nutritional information such as saturated fat and salt content.
To read more on this story or other food safety tips, go to NSW Food Authority
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