Food and Health Dialogue

The Food and Health Dialogue (the Dialogue) was created to provide a collaborative forum where the Government could work together with the health sector and broader food industry to improve the availability of healthy food options and increase consumer awareness and understanding of the link between food choices and health outcomes.

Page last updated: 26 August 2016

The Dialogue’s remit was to work across all relevant levels of the food supply chain to create action plans and set targets for reducing consumption of risk-associated nutrients (saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, sugar and salt), increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods, and improving consumer awareness and education to improve health outcomes from healthy diet choices.

The Dialogue comprised an Executive Group, a Reformulation Working Group and industry roundtables arranged by food category or sector. The Executive group was chaired by a representative of the Federal Minister for Health and membership comprised government, industry and public health stakeholders.

Focus

The Dialogue’s primary activity was action on food innovation, including a voluntary reformulation program across a range of commonly consumed foods. The reformulation program aimed to reduce the saturated fat, added sugar, sodium and energy across nominated food categories.

Reformulation targets were set at challenging levels to deliver real benefits to Australian consumers, while at the same time recognising technical and safety constraints.

During the time that the Dialogue was active, 10 priority food categories were targeted for reformulation - bread; breakfast cereals; simmer sauces; processed meats; soups; savoury pies; processed poultry; cheese; potato, corn and extruded snacks; savoury crackers.

Categories were selected based on findings from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity survey which identified these as significant contributors of risk-associated nutrients to the Australian diet.

Reformulation

A Reformulation Working Group was been established under the Dialogue to investigate priority food categories, which were identified as presenting an opportunity for public health benefit through reformulation. The role of the Reformulation Working Group was to convene industry roundtables to discuss and agree to reformulation and where appropriate, portion sizing and consumer messaging targets.

The industry roundtables convened under Dialogue capture nominated food category leaders selected for their market share with representation from manufacturers, retailers, foodservice operators and distributors.

The Dialogue utilised market share, consumption data and nutrient profile data to ensure that all reformulation targets were justifiable and underpinned by recent and reliable evidence. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) provided food technology services to ensure that the targets presented to industry were realistic, achievable and adhered to safety and quality standards.

Food Category targets and Action Plan

Bread
Ready-to-Eat breakfast Cereals
Simmer Sauce
Processed Meat
Soups
Savoury Pies
Potato/Corn/Extruded Snacks
Savoury Crackers
Cheese

Evaluation of Reformulation Activities

The National Heart Foundation of Australia has undertaken a stocktake of activities undertaken as a part of the Food and Health Dialogue.

The report below provides the outcomes of this stocktake and details the progress made by industry to achieve the reformulation targets set under the Food and Health Dialogue by product category.

PDF version: Report on the Evaluation of the nine Food Categories for which reformulation targets were set under the Food and Health Dialogue (PDF 2341 KB)
Word version: Report on the Evaluation of the nine Food Categories for which reformulation targets were set under the Food and Health Dialogue (Word 2340 KB)