The Australian Health and Food Collaboration’s review of fast food menu labelling highlighted concerns with the current menu labelling regulation in Australia:
- nationally inconsistent menu labelling legislation;
- an uneven playing field with respect to menu labelling for businesses selling standard food items; and
- emerging trends for promoting, offering, and selling standard food items are not addressed by the 2011 Principles for introducing point-of-sale nutrition information at standard food outlets.
In August 2019 the (then) Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (now referred to as Food Ministers’ Meeting) agreed that the most effective way to achieve nationally consistent menu labelling would be to develop a food regulatory measure under the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code. The first step was to develop a policy guideline to provide strategic guidance to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) about the Forum’s expectations about menu labelling.
Policy guidelines aim to improve outcomes for all by making clear and unambiguous the policy principles that apply to jurisdictions and bodies making food regulations. The creation of a policy guideline does not trigger regulatory action by FSANZ or changes to current food labelling. However, when FSANZ is developing or reviewing food regulatory measures, a written policy guideline is one of a number of matters to which it must have regard (as outlined in the FSANZ Act 1991).
It is proposed that the objectives of policy guidance for menu labelling are to:
- minimise the proliferation of different menu labelling systems;
- create a level playing field (with respect to menu labelling) for all businesses that sell standard food items; and
- ensure that different modes of sale and types of menus enable comparison of menu options to assist people to make healthier food purchase choices at the point-of-sale.
The Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) has identified four policy options:
- Maintain the status quo, allowing jurisdictions to choose how to implement menu labelling consistent with the 2011 Principles.
- Amend the 2011 Principles and encourage all jurisdictions to consistently implement menu labelling schemes in their own legislation.
- Develop a Ministerial Policy Guideline on menu labelling to inform the development of a proposed bi-national regulatory food measure in the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code (jurisdictions to repeal own legislation once regulatory measure developed).
- Encourage industry to voluntarily implement enhancements to menu labelling.
Further information about these options is detailed in the Public Consultation Regulation Impact Statement which is available to download from the ‘Related’ section below.
Why we are consulting
Australia and New Zealand share a joint system for food labelling which is overseen by Food Ministers. Food Ministers are responsible for developing food regulation policy in the form of policy guidelines and to ensure stakeholder views are considered on appropriate policies.
FRSC consulted Australian stakeholders in early 2018 about the problems with the existing menu labelling regulation in Australia, and again in late 2018 about possible solutions. All views were considered and have informed the policy options. FRSC is now seeking stakeholder views to inform the development of policy guidance and an effective policy framework for consistent menu labelling. A Decision Regulatory Impact Statement will present Food Ministers with the preferred option for decision.
Responding to the consultation
- Download and read the Public Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (available under the ‘Related’ section at the bottom of this page.
- Respond to the questions in the online survey – the questions in the survey match the questions in the Public Consultation Regulation Impact Statement. A preview of the survey is available for download under the ‘Related’ section at the bottom of this page.
- Please provide evidence or examples to support your comments where possible. Comments on technical issues should be based on scientific evidence and/or supported by research where appropriate. Where possible, please provide citations to published studies or other sources.
- It is not necessary to provide a response to all questions.
- All submissions are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 in Australia and the Official Information Act 1982 in New Zealand. If you consider that all or part of your submission should not be released, please make this clear when making your submission and indicate the grounds for withholding the information.
It is acknowledged that the Menu Labelling consultation is open at the same time as the consultation on the Review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Act 1991 – draft Regulatory Impact Statement. We recognise the workload for stakeholders to respond to both consultations and appreciate your contribution. Please note the menu labelling consultation will be open for an additional two weeks after the FSANZ Act review consultation closes to allow time for stakeholders to respond to both consultations if desired. If you have concerns about timeframes please email the Food Regulation Secretariat- firstname.lastname@example.org