The new star labelling system which got the nod of approval from food and health ministers today has serious flaws and will be an added expense for Australian food manufacturers, says the AFGC.
In an AFGC statement, CEO Gary Dawson, said it was unfortunate that the announcement had been "rushed out by the federal government without any cost benefit analysis or evidence that it will achieve the outcomes it is seeking."
Despite its disappointment with today's developments, the AFGC said it's willing to help develop an effective front of pack nutrition labelling system (FoPL), but a number of outstanding issues will need to be resolved.
"Industry believes that there are still significant problems with the proposal but we are committed to working through them to see if a workable solution can be found," Dawson said.
"The food industry is expected to carry the $200m cost of implementing this scheme while also dealing with an additional regulatory burden. If industry is going to make this investment in a new FoPL system, it must be based on sound and credible science, effective in communicating with consumers and practical and attractive for industry to implement."
Dawson said an effective labelling system would need to resolve issues such as how the star system is calculated, to avoid anomalous ratings, while also outlining whether substantial funds will be allocated to educating consumers on how to use the labelling system. Whether or not the government is prepared to undertake a robust cost-benefit analysis also needs to be determined.
The AFGC has long been an advocate for the Daily Intake Guide labelling system, which was introduced in 2006 as a voluntary initiative and now appears on over 7,200 food products on Australian supermarket shelves.
While the AFGC says the DIG labels provide an easy to read summary of a product's nutritional content, others, including consumer group Choice, have said it's confusing and potentially misleading.