Nation-wide kilojoule labelling needed on fast food

Wednesday 16 June 202 1 Nation -wide kilojoule labelling needed on fast food Implementing nation -wide menu labelling for pre -prepared food sold at takeaway outlets is just one way the Government can make it easier for Australians to put their health first.

In a submission to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand on poli cy guidance for menu labelling.

Dietitians Australia calls for a national program to increase consistency across the country.

Depending on where you li ve, some may be familiar with kilojoule (energy) ratings displayed on the menus at fast food outlets, with five states and territories introducing their own menu labelling legislation since 2011.

However, in Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territo ry this type of labelling remains voluntary.

“We want everyone to have access to the right information to prioritise their health – and having consistent, nation -wide menu labelling on takeaway food would be a step in the right direction,” said Simone Aus tin, Senior Dietetic Advisor at Dietitians Australia.

“We encourage cooking at home where possible but eating out is a part of the Australian lifestyle.

“Food sold from takeaway outlets are often higher in energy, lower in nutrients and provided in large r portions than what Australians might usually eat at home. If eaten regularly, it can increase the risk of developing chronic disease.

“Without energy labels on menus, it makes it tricker for Australians to be able to enjoy eating out on occasion and ke ep their health in mind.

“Having the kilojoule content next to each item when you look up at a menu board, means that everyone would be able to easily access the same information about the food they are eating.” However, for it to be effective, this labelling also needs to be accompanied by public health campaigns about what kilojoule content means, and examples of this can be seen in the states who had introd uced their own legislation.

Simone highlights that displaying energy on menus is designed to help guide Australians, providing a numerical value to help them to assess whether a food is right for their health.

“With the National Preventive Health Strateg y soon to be finalised, this is a good example of the importance of nation -wide health literacy programs to empower Australians with the skills to eat for their health,” said Simone.

If successful, the proposed policy would require food outlets (including supermarkets) selling ‘standard food items’ (food and drinks provided at a standardised portion and ingredients) to display kilojoule information, where there are 50 or more outlets nationally, 20 or more in a state or seven or mor e located in a territory.

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