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

Foodbank Australia CEO: Achieving UN goals a pipe dream amid “shameful” food waste and security woes.

 Australia has a multi – million food waste problem, alongside massive simultaneous food insecurity and hunger issues, meaning it is a long way off meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals the CEO of Foodbank Australia has told us. (Food Navigator)

 Brianna Casey said it was shameful that the country had an A$ 20 billion food waste problem at the same time that one in five Australian children had experienced food insecurity, said Casey. Food insecurity, defined by the United Nations as “a situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life”, is surprisingly common in Australia. “Put in simple terms, it is not having the means by which to regularly and routinely put a meal on the table, or experiencing uncertainty about where your next meal might be coming from,” explained Casey. The 2017 Foodbank Hunger Report found that 3.6 million Australians experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months (and) Foodbank’s Rumbling Tummies report (..) found that more than one in five Australian children have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months. This makes food insecurity one of the most significant social policy challenges facing Australian communities today,” she added.

According to Australia’s National Food Waste Strategy $A20b is lost to the Australian economy through food waste, with problems occurring all the way along the supply chain. This starts from the farm where up to 25% of all vegetables produced never making it off the premises, all through to households with 3.1 million tonnes of edible food disposed of yearly. “Australia produces enough food for at least 60 million people, so the issue is not so much that there is not enough food, but that the food isn’t getting to the right places in the right time to avoid waste and help address food insecurity,” said Casey.


Author: Pearl Neo

Credit:  2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd.


Several shortcomings or a solid start? Academics and industry disagree over Health Star Rating for Aussie beverages.

 A recent Australian study has identified the selective and partial uptake of the voluntary Health Star Rating (HSR) system for beverages as ‘shortcomings’, a finding that has received short shrift from the nation’s beverage sector.  The University of Adelaide study was conducted via a survey on the labels of 762 ready to drink (RTD) beverages of no more than 600 ml in volume, which were nondairy and non-alcoholic. Samples were collected from 17 Australian supermarkets in 2016, and the presence of the HSR star rating icon and/or energy only icon was measured. It was found that the HSR was used for only 35.3% of all beverages surveyed. Within these, only 6.8% displayed a star rating icon, and these were almost all five stars (94.2%) or 4.5 stars (5.8%) the majority of these drinks were found to be 100% juices (85.7%), despite the fact that had high or very high sugar content.

Under the Australian and New Zealand scheme, fruit juices can also be eligible to receive a five star rating, which is a shortcoming of the scheme. It was particularly concerning to find that the five-star rating is being used on juices high or very high in sugar.”  The HSR system is not compulsory in Australia as of yet, as system allows for beverages to display just the energy only icon, without displaying the star rating icon. Author Brownbill suggests that the current scoring - which allows juices high in sugar to score 5 stars - may work to mislead consumers. The five-star rating should be reserved only for water.” However the Australian Beverages Council is standing steadfastly behind the HSR’s current implementation and does not appear to agree with Brownbill’s findings. 


Author: Peary Neo

Credit: 2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Health Star Ratings: Whats on the labels of Australian beverages?

Authors: Brownbill, A L. et al

Health promotion Journal of Australia 


ScanUp: The app that tells consumers if food is ‘ultra-processed’ and helps manufacturers reformulate.

 The developers of ScanUp, a French app that allows consumers to scan food products and see just how “processed” or “ultra processed” they are, are working with manufacturers to develop single products that score more highly. Founded by business strategist Camille Pechery and IT engineer Adrien Dumitresco, ScanUp is a free to use, consumer facing app that provides information on the degree of food processing and healthiness of a product, awarding a score ranging from “unprocessed” to “ultra processed”. The duo launched the app in 2017 so that consumers could“make the right food choices”. One year later, ScanUp launched a second service – a platform between consumers and brands so that consumers can find the unprocessed products they are looking for. ScanUp’s database currently has around 450,000 products listed with 70,000 active users. According to the co-founder the main goal of ScanUp is to encourage healthy reformulation. “We want to bring transparency to consumers on the degree of processing of products to enable them to choose the products of better quality. In parallel, we strongly encourage manufacturers to reformulate their products and we support them in this strategy.”


Author: Niamh Michail

Credit:  2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd


Nestlé to create Institute of Packaging Sciences to tackle global waste problem.

 Nestlé says is going to address the growing packaging waste problem by creating a Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Institute will employ about 50 people and include a laboratory and facilities for rapid prototyping, with a focus on the “discovery and development of functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging”.

 It says it will research recyclable, biodegradable and compostable polymers, functional paper, new packaging concepts and technologies to increase the recyclability of plastic packaging, which will be tested in different product categories before rolling out across its global portfolio. The Institute will be operational mid-2019. It will discover and examine new packaging materials in terms of safety, environmental impact and functionality, in close collaboration with other parts of Nestlé research, e.g. in the field of safety and analytics. It will work closely with academic partners, start-ups and suppliers. New materials will then be tested and applied across categories at Nestlé’s Product Technology Centres (around 30 worldwide), before rolling them out commercially,’a Nestlé spokesman said.


Author: Jenny Eagle

Credit:  2018 William Reed Business media Ltd.

NOTE:  For the full transcript of these articles please refer to the references provided.

AuthorRay Dennis