Improving food supply
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Improving food supply

The Heart Foundation supports initiatives that guide people to healthier food and drink choices.

Key takeaways

Our food supply advocacy is focused on:

  • Kilojoule menu labelling
  • Front of pack labelling
  • Food reformulation

Kilojoule menu labelling 

Australians now spend 58 cents in every food dollar on discretionary foods, and an average household spends 27 percent of the weekly household budget on eating out of home. The danger of eating out is that consumers may not realise the kilojoule intake of what they order. Portion sizes tend to be larger and can often contain more kilojoules, saturated fat and salt than meals prepared at home. Many Australians who eat out regularly may not realise or consider the impact of their food choices on their overall diet, long-term disease risk and health. 

Fast food outlets in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory must now display kilojoule menu labelling. This means that consumers must be provided with information about kilojoule content at the point of purchase. Kilojoule menu labelling helps bridge a gap of understanding about the nutritional value of foods prepared and served away from home. This can empower Australians to make more informed choices about ready-to-eat foods they eat. 

The Heart Foundation’s ‘calls to action’ for menu labelling are: 

  • Legislate and enforce mandatory nutrition labelling on menus and menu boards at point of purchase 
  • Fund and run an educational campaign to help Australians to understand what kilojoule menu labelling means and how to use it to choose healthier foods 
  • Monitor and evaluate the menu labelling initiatives to determine efficacy in Australia (under evaluation) 
  • Fund and/or support further research to build evidence for future action, as identified by the Heart Foundation. 

Further information on menu labelling  

Read the Heart Foundation’s recommendations to the government: Nutrition labelling on menus (2010, PDF)

Read the Heart Foundation’s report: Rapid review of the evidence: The need for nutrition labelling on menus (2010, PDF)

Front of pack labelling 

The Heart Foundation supports initiatives that guide people to healthier food and drink choices. 

Front of pack labels are a symbol or logo placed on the front of processed food packets which provide convenient, relevant and readily understood nutrition information to help consumers make more informed and healthier food choices.  

Front of pack labelling aims to assist people to eat in accordance with dietary guidelines, alongside other strategies designed to address the increasing prevalence of obesity, poor nutrition and chronic disease. 

Effective front of pack labelling systems can:  

  1. Make it easier to compare and select the best choice between similar foods  
  2. Increase awareness of food that may contribute positively or negatively to diet related life-long diseases 
  3. Be easily understood across socio-economic, culturally and linguistically diverse and low literacy and numeracy groups. 

Front of pack labelling can help consumers make healthier choices and can have its greatest impact when combined with: 

  • Collaboration between government, the food industry and other bodies
  • Food labelling awareness education strategies and campaigns
  • Evaluation and monitoring of the impact on consumers and the food supply. 

Food reformulation 

Food reformulation is the reduction of negative ingredients in commonly consumed processed foods in order to improve our diets and population health. 

The Heart Foundation defines food reformulation as changing the nutrient content of a processed food products to either: 

  • Reduce the content of negative nutrients, such as sodium, saturated fat, trans fat or energy (kilojoules), or
  • Increase the content of beneficial nutrients, such as dietary fibre, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and unsaturated fats. 

The reformulation of processed foods provides an opportunity to improve the health of a population through improving the nutritional characteristics of popular processed foods. This is particularly critical for disadvantaged groups who are more likely to be have inequitable access to healthy foods and rely on processed foods more than higher socio-economic groups.

Unpack the Salt – A food reformulation initiative by the Heart Foundation  

Australians consume nearly double the recommended daily intake of 5 grams. This can increase health risks, including kidney disease, heart attack and strokes. To help educate Australians on how much salt is in their favourite foods, the Heart Foundation and VicHealth created an ‘Unpack the Salt’ health campaign. This was Australia’s first salt reformulation guide for food manufacturers.  

Learn more about the Unpack the Salt campaign on our website.  

Further information on food reformulation 

For more information on food reformulation and our recommendations, read the Heart Foundation’s Rapid Review: Effectiveness of food reformulation as a strategy to improve population health

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