Latest in a regular series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood.

 ‘No Brainer’: Australian and New Zealand to implement mandatory pregnancy warning labels for all alcohol. 

All alcohol sold in Australia and New Zealand will be legally required to carry a pregnancy warning label, as agreed upon by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation.

According to the forum’s final communiqué as published on the Food Regulation Secretariat website, Food Standards Australia New Zealand has been tasked to “develop this mandatory labelling standard as a priority”,and the work is to be “completed expeditiously”.

“Government advice in Australia and New Zealand is that pregnant women do not consume any alcohol”,said the communiqué. “If the baby is exposed to alcohol in the womb it can have irreversible impacts such as intellectual, behavioural and developmental disabilities. ‘(Based) on the evidence, a mandatory labelling standard for pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcoholic beverages should be developed and should include a pictogram and relevant warning statement.’

On the whole, the alcohol industry appears both receptive and supportive of the decision.


Author:  Pearly Neo

Credit:   2018 -  William Reed Business Media Ltd

UK to introduce plastic packaging tax

The UK is planning to introduce a “world – leading” tax on plastic packaging in 2022: applying to all single-use plastic packaging that doesn’t include at least 30% recycled content. Plastic bottles, trays and pots are due to be included in the tax. Revenues from the single use packaging tax will be used to tackle waste and litter. The amount of plastic the UK is throwing away is set to increase by over a million tonnes by 2030, equivalent to 87,000 more double-decker buses worth of plastic waste each year, according to research from the WWF. A survey from Ingredient Communications earlier this year suggested that more than half of UK consumers are in favour of a plastic packaging tax. The vast majority of the 2.26 million tonnes of plastic packaging used in the UK every year is made from new material, rather than recycled material, primarily because it is cheaper. “Business will have until April 2022 to adapt their processes before the introduction of the tax. This will give them time to adjust their behaviour and manage any costs they face while ensuring action is still taken to tackle this important environmental issue.’


Author:  Rachel Arthur

Credit:   2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

No more almond “milk”? Australia looks to stop “misleading” plant – based product labelling.

Manufacturers in Australia may soon have to re–label plant based products containing the terms “meat” or “milk”, as politicians request Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to review the standards surrounding them. Australian Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie said that these changes were necessary “to protect the reputation, hard earned by our clean, green farmers.” ‘I want consumers to have confidence that when they buy (…) meat, it’s beef from an animal and when they buy milk, it is actually produced by dairy cows. We need to be careful we don’t confuse the marketplace.” National party senator Barry O’Sullivan concurred, and went further to tell the ABC that: “The plant-based products industry is piggybacking on the back of (meat and milk) industries that have invested hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars to get their product identified for what it is.” McKenzie added that “it says something” that plant based product makers are “faking the original (meat or milk products)”, as well as using the same language for and colouring their products to look like the originals. ‘I think people have been very, very clever with the marketing of these products,’ she said.

FSANZ appears to have acknowledged on this website that these plant-based alternatives are not able to replace animal sources completely, using milk as an example.

This move comes on the back of furore caused by supermarket chain Woolworths’ decision to position a “mince’ product, which was in fact made from plant content in its meat section. This led to public outrage, with various organisations urging the government to settle on regulations surrounding plant-based items.


Author:  Pearly Neo

Credit:   2018 -  William Reed Business Media Ltd


“ingredients lists are powerful purchasing motivators”: Study finds consumers care more about ingredients than brand.

Fresh consumer research demonstrates the ongoing importance of the clean label trend and suggested that the ingredients list trumps both the brand and product description in motivating purchase. According to a consumer survey, commissioned by ingredients manufacturer Beneo, consumers are paying more attention to what goes into their food, motivated by the desire to make healthier dietary decisions. The study surveyed the opinions of 3000 consumers from the UK, Germany and the US with the aim of providing insights into shoppers’ product choices and their preferred ingredients when buying cleaner label products. When shopping for a new product, a large proportion of consumers are likely to analyse its ingredients rather than buying on brand alone, the survey discovered. The results suggest that women are more likely to prioritise ingredients than men but Beneo suggested that men are also likely to look at the ingredients list meaning that the healthy eating message is not gender specific.

The study also concluded that consumers tend to believe that products described as “natural” are also healthy. When asked what characteristics they expected from a natural product, 59% expected a natural product “to be healthy”. The majority, 53% also expected it to be free from GMO.


Author:  Katy Askew

Credit:  2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.


Broccoli best of the bunch in preventing hospitalisation from aged falls

The humble broccoli, and its cruciferous cousins, including Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, could help older people avoid being hospitalised after a fall, researchers at Edith Cowan University have revealed. The findings, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggested just half a cup of broccoli a day could prevent older people from falling and help them to maintain their quality of life well into old age. This is because of the link between higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables and better muscle strength and physical function in the participants. “We suspect this is one of the ways they reduce the risk of falling,” said lead researcher Marc Sim. The team from Edith Cowan’s School of Medical and Health Sciences studied the diets of a group of older Western Australian women above the age of 70 and tracked falls over 15 years,. The research found that higher overall vegetable consumption was associated with a lower risk of falls requiring hospitalisation. And eating cruciferous vegetables provided the greatest benefit.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in Australia among people aged over 65. Official statistics suggest that the cost to the health system will be worth some A$789m per year by 2021.


Author: RJ Whitehead

Credit:  2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

Note:  The full article for all of the above may be found through their reference.

AuthorRay Dennis