New Zealand and Australian ministers have agreed front-of-pack nutrition labels on food products are needed. But a decision on traffic-light labelling has been postponed.

We've been campaigning for traffic-light labels because they help consumers pick healthier products.

Traffic-light labelling uses green, amber and red symbols to indicate the level of total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium in a product.

However, the New Zealand and Australia Forum on Food Regulation has delayed a decision on traffic light labels pending further consultation and research. The forum has asked officials to provide a report on front-of-pack labelling options to be considered at its next meeting in June 2012.

We'll continue to advocate for traffic light labels because they help consumers sift through the marketing hype and make better food choices.

Behind the label


We've picked a sample of supermarket products that make nutrition claims and applied traffic light labelling.

Here's what we found. If you'd like to add to our list, send us your examples.

 
Flemings Chewy Muesli Bars

Flemings Chewy Muesli Bars

"Wholegrain oats", "Source of fibre", "No artificial colours."

Flemings Chewy Muesli Bars

 
Grain Waves Wholegrain Chips

Grain Waves Wholegrain Chips

"70% less saturated fat", "Good source of wholegrains"

Grain Waves Wholegrain Chips 

Milo Cereal

Milo Cereal

"50% wholegrain", "10 Vitamins & Minerals", "Source of fibre"

Milo Cereal 

Pams Coco Snaps

Pams Coco Snaps

"A good source of carbohydrate", "No artificial colours", "No preservatives", "Low in fat", "Good source of vitamins B1, B3, folate & iron"

Pams Coco Snaps

Kellog's Nutri-Grain

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain

"High in protein", "Source of calcium", "Good source of B1, B2 & niacin", "Good source of iron"

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain

Nairns Mini Oatcakes

Nairn's Mini Oatcakes

"Low GI", "No added sugar", "Wholegrain Oats", "Wheat free recipe"

Nairn's Mini Oatcakes

Alfa One Real Mayonnaise

Alfa One Real Mayonnaise

"Good for you, Good for your food"

Alfa One Real Mayonnaise 

Blue Coconut Cooking Oil

Blue Coconut Cooking Oil

"100% pure & natural" "The 'good fat' cooking oil", "Has no cholesterol", "Ideal for sports nutrition", "Is not hydrogenated", "Is easily digested", "Has anti-bacterial  and anti-viral properties"

Blue Coconut Cooking Oil

Arnott's Harvest Wheat crackers

Arnott's Harvest Wheat crackers

"The wholesome country style wheat cracker", "No artificial colours or preservatives"

Arnott's Harvest Wheat crackers 

Chicken Tonight Simmer Sauce Swett & Sour

Chicken Tonight Simmer Sauce Sweet & Sour

"99% fat free"

Chicken Tonight Simmer Sauce Sweet & Sour

Criteria
We compared foods on total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium. We've used nutrient criteria developed by the Australian consumer organisation, Choice. These criteria are based on the latest nutrition recommendations and dietary guidelines established by government health experts in Australia and internationally.

Guide to the Table 

Member Comments


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Simplistic and patronising Posted by: Anne Scott 17 Jul 2012 8:23am

Education is the key, and the schools are doing it right now. There is no simple, quick fix. We've kicked smoking into touch, it will take just as long to re-educate about good eating choices.
There's too much information but dumbing it down this far is pointless.
Here's an anomaly: Coca-Cola doesn't make health claims but it is a 4 x green light product!

Tui Ad Posted by: hops 04 Apr 2012 7:47pm

Traffic light labelling - simple, effective, in the best interests of the consumer

So it will be law by tomorrow.

Helpfull Posted by: Lilliput2 10 Jan 2012 11:42am

Would especially like sodium information to be more accessible. I like the heart foundation tick for low fat but they seem to ignore sodium. We all have different things we may want or need to avoid so traffic light system would be great. I wouldn't have to put reading glasses on in the supermarket.

Hypocrisy-blasting Posted by: Emma Drysdale 19 Dec 2011 12:20pm

Traffic-light labelling is great for two reasons - they make identifying comparative levels quick and easy for the busy shopper trying to juggle shopping lists, other shoppers, perhaps children, etc., and they expose the hypocrisy of the claims that these products make - not just in the actual claims themselves, but in the names the companies use to portray something wholesome (e.g. "Harvest"). This is a disgrace and the more the marketing trickery can be shown for what it is, the better for the health of everyone (not just those with enough time and knowledge to stand there reading the detailed nutritional labels).

Hypocracy Posted by: Harm Less 18 Dec 2011 10:43am

Apart from the glaring shortfalls (hydrogenated fats?, preservatives?, MSG?, Aspatame?, gluten?, etc.) in a 'Food Safety for Dummies' system such as this, how is it that such a system could be considered but the mandatory Country of Origin labelling of our food is being slated as too difficult by our food suppliers?

Helpful for many Posted by: Catherine Richardson 17 Dec 2011 9:01am

Traffic light labelling will be helpful for those in a hurry and those who find it too difficult to analyse the detailed data currently shown.
I support its introduction provided the existing detailed information continues to be shown.
I do not support it replacing the existing detailed information.

Not helpful for me Posted by: JamesF 17 Dec 2011 7:32am

I don't find the labels very helpful. If all the products have some red and orange labels, how do you choose? I would much rather look at the nutrition information so I can compare actual quantities per serving, and then choose on a combination of nutrition and price.. Some of your bands are very wide, too wide to be useful.

I'm not against these labels being used as some will find them helpful, as long as the existing nutrition information is retained at the same size and level of detail.

Coconut oil is a good fat Posted by: Meryl White 17 Dec 2011 6:18am

It's a shame that the labelling system is so black and white. Yes, coconut oil is a saturated fat. Obviously as an oil it will be high in fat - that doesn't make it a bad product in itself. There is also a mountain of evidence that coconut oil has many health benefits despite being saturated. Canola oil on the other hand is unsaturated but far worse.

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