Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said that thousands of Australian citrus and apple businesses as well as our food manufacturing sector will be disappointed that the Food Ministers Forum has today voted to classify pure Australian fruit and vegie juices in the same health category as soft drink.
The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation has today slashed the health ratings of 100 per cent, no added sugar juices from five stars to as low as 2.5 which is lower than soft drinks such as diet cola.
“It’s madness. Fresh, pure, vitamin-rich Aussie OJ is better than soft drink every day of the week and our Health Star Rating system should reflect this,” Minister Littleproud said.
“At a time when we need more jobs, and our farm and food processing sector need more support, governments are abandoning them.
“It will cause consumer confusion and impact sales in an already difficult year for farmers.
“The disgraceful decision has undermined the integrity of the entire Health Star Rating system, and will lead to juice manufacturers dropping the health label altogether, leaving consumers worse off.
“Agriculture needs to be confident governments are making sensible, evidence-based decisions when it comes to the regulation of food products.
“Today’s decision doesn’t take into account personal responsibility of consumers about the quantities of any food group they put down their throats.
“I thank New South Wales and South Australia for their careful, sensible consideration of the fruit juice health rating system, but their counterparts’ actions here are astounding.
“Today I presented a paper about the important role fruit juice has in the diet of Australians that recommended an automatic four-star rating on 100 per cent fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar.
“The Forum rejected this proposal even though it’s clear to me that retaining a four-star rating would address industry concerns, maintain the commitment of our growers and juice industry to the health star rating system, and retain jobs.
“I’m all for ensuring good consumer health outcomes, but this lacks common sense.
“It is a kick in the guts for our 1900 citrus farmers and the $800 million economic contribution they make through juice production.”