Consumers understand Daily Food Intake Guides but don’t use them to make decisions

A new online survey has found almost 80 per cent of Australians are familiar with the Daily Intake Guide on food labels currently being promoted by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The Newspoll survey, commissioned by the AFGC, has added fuel to the fire in the debate over the Daily Intake Guide the AFGC wants and the traffic light labelling system consumer advocacy group Choice is calling for.

Daily Intake Guide labels use small symbols that detail the amount of energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in a standard portion of the food and how much of the average daily intake it makes up.

CHOICE wants to simplify further, with a Traffic Light labelling on products.

The AFGC’s Newspoll survey asked more than 1200 adults nationwide aged 18-64 and found that more than half of Australians think the Daily Intake Guide labels are useful, and over 60 per cent said they are “easy to read and understand”.

But it’s not all good news, as nearly half of respondents saying they did not use the guide to help them decide whether to buy the product.

Last week, national consumer advocacy group CHOICE again called for compulsory front-of-pack Traffic Light labelling on food products in Australia, which would feature red, green, or amber symbols on the label for each of the main nutrients in the product such as fat, sugars, and salt.

Choice says Traffic Light labelling will make it easier for consumers to choose a healthier food by comparing the colour codes between products, but AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell told Food Magazine the system is too simplistic and can be misleading.

“Some foods should be eaten in moderation while others can be eaten more regularly. The problem with traffic lights is people interpret red as stop – or don’t eat – and green as go – or eat as much as you like – neither is correct.

“For example, some dairy products and avocado would receive red traffic lights but they are important part of a nutritious, balanced diet.

“Traffic light labels categorise foods as good and bad – but all foods can form part of a balanced diet.”

“Changing food labels is expensive for industry and consumers – there’s no sanity for changing to traffic light labels over a system that’s already working, especially at a time when industry is under immense pressure from challenges right across the supply chain.”


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