In 2002, it became mandatory for food producers in Australia to provide a Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) on the back of food packages. However, research has shown that consumers often misinterpret NIPs or do not use them at all. Health advocates have begun to consider one form of NIPs - Front-of-Pack labelling (FoPL) - as a means of supporting healthy food choices.
There are more than 20 FoPL formats in use worldwide. The information they provide varies considerably (for example summaries of key ingredients or detailed information about them), as do the strategies underpinning their use.
Three FoPL format s are commonly used in the Australian market – National Heart Foundation (NHF) Tick, The Daily Intake Guide (%DI), and Glycaemic Index (GI) Symbol. Each of them have a different logo, which may cause confusion among consumers. To prevent this, the Australian Government accepts that an easily understood, uniform FoPL system is needed.
The recent Government-funded review of food labelling (led by federal former health minister, Dr Neal Blewett AC) recommended that the Traffic Light System (TLS) be adopted. The Government did not support this as the preferred option.
The food industry has also been reluctant to adopt it.
With the prevalence of obesity still rising, and the Government still debating the possible benefits of uniform FoPL, food labelling to support healthy food decisions has become a contentious issue.