Food and Health Dialogue Communiqué
The recent results from the Australian Health Survey reaffirms the commitment of the Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue to make healthier food choices easier and more accessible for all Australians.
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27 November 2012
The Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue (the Dialogue), chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Catherine King, met today for its eleventh meeting.
Ms King said today that “The recent results from the Australian Health Survey which indicate that approximately 63% of adults are now overweight or obese, reaffirms the commitment of the Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue to make healthier food choices easier and more accessible for all Australians”.
The survey also showed that chronic disease remains Australia’s leading cause of death and disease burden. Of particular concern to the Food and Health Dialogue is the prevalence of high blood pressure, with around 21% of Australians reported as having high blood pressure. The link between excess salt consumption and high blood pressure is well established and the Dialogue continues to work with the food industry to reduce the salt in foods that Australians consume on a daily basis.
“Australians are eating too much salt and the burden of disease associated with large intakes of sodium is well recognised by the Australian Government, particularly in relation to cardiovascular health” Ms King said.
“We will continue to work with the food industry to reformulate commonly consumed foods to reduce the amount of salt these foods contain”.
Members of the Dialogue discussed the progress of reformulation activities currently underway against key milestones and priorities. Items discussed included:
Progress Reports – Industry RoundtablesMembers discussed the progress to date achieved by participants on the industry roundtables, specifically sodium and saturated fat reduction targets for processed meats.
Processed meat roundtable participants are progressing with reformulation efforts and working with suppliers on how best to reduce sodium without impacting shelf-life. Since commencement of reformulation efforts 25 products have been reformulated having their sodium reduced by an average of 20%. The twenty new products launched since commencement of Dialogue activities, are all below the Dialogue’s reformulation targets for sodium and saturated fat.
Cheese roundtableMembers of the cheese industry held their first roundtable meeting during October. The Dialogue recognises that cheese reformulation has a number of technological constraints, but is pleased that the cheese industry is willing to continue negotiations in respect of setting appropriate reformulation targets. A second cheese industry roundtable will be held early next year.
Potato, corn and extruded snacks roundtableThe first potato, corn and extruded snacks roundtable was held during November. Members noted that participants of the roundtable agreed to proposed sodium reformulation targets. Leading manufacturers The Smith’s Snackfood Company and Snack Brands Australia, along with major retailers Woolworths, Coles and ALDI are working collaboratively with the Australian Government and public health groups to provide healthier choices for consumers.
Companies have agreed to the following sodium reduction targets:
- An average target of 550mg/100g and a maximum target of 800mg/100g across ‘potato chips’ products;
- An average target of 950mg/100g and a maximum target of 1250mg/100g across ‘extruded snacks’ products;
- An average target of 550mg/100g and a target of 700mg/100g across ‘cereal based snacks’ products; and
- An average target of 850mg/100g and a maximum target of 1100mg/100g across ‘salt and vinegar’ products.
Participants agreed to revisit the saturated fat targets in 12 months.
The timeframe for action will be three years from December 2012 to December 2015. The products targeted and the amount of sodium reduction per year will be determined by the individual companies involved.
Savoury crackers roundtableThe first savoury crackers roundtable was also held in November. Participants expressed a keen interest in participating in reformulation activities, agreeing to reconvene in early December 2012 after further work was conducted by the Department to define category segmentations and reanalyse nutrient content tables and distribution charts.
Quick Service Restaurant roundtableThe first Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) roundtable was held in September 2012.
QSR companies are currently working with the Dialogue to identify activities for reformulation under the agreed engagement strategy.
QSRs engaged in these activities include McDonalds Australia; Hungry Jack's; Yum! Restaurants International (KFC and Pizza Hut); QSR Holdings (Red Rooster, Oporto, Chicken Treat); Subway and Gloria Jean’s Coffees.
Dialogue’s relationship with other Commonwealth government initiativesTo support and guide the work of the Dialogue, members noted a mapping diagram which illustrates the current and potential linkages with Dialogue activities.
This document will be available on the Food and Health Dialogue website.
Next priority food categoriesThe next category to be engaged under the Dialogue is condiments. Engagement with manufacturers in this category is expected to commence early 2013.
Members also endorsed the “frozen potato products’ as a food category for reformulation in 2013.
Further research on possible categories for reformulation in 2013 will be undertaken out of session.
The members of the Food and Health Dialogue Executive are:The Honorable Catherine King MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing (Chair)
Mr Gary Dawson, Chief Executive Officer Australian Food and Grocery Council
Dr Lyn Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, National Heart Foundation of Australia
Mr Andrew Hall, Director Corporate and Public Affairs, Woolworths Ltd
Dr Manny Noakes, Senior Dietitian and Research Scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Mr Michael Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Public Health Association of Australia
Ms Patricia Carter, Principal Advisor-Public Health Nutrition, Health Promotion Branch, Public Health and Clinical Systems, SA Health
Ms Tracey Monaghan, Director of Quality Assurance ANZ, McDonald’s Australia (Quick Service Restaurant Forum representative)
Mr Steve McCutcheon, Chief Executive Officer, Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
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