Seeing stars: new food packaging regulations proposed to fight obesity

Food packaging is set to get a makeover, with the front of packaging required to feature an icon showing the number of kilojoules in a product as well as information on saturated fat, sugars and sodium as part of a planned federal government campaign to tackle obesity.

The system will be trialled as a voluntary code, but a mandatory code has been included in a proposal put to state and territory ministers at the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council meeting last week.

The new star-rating system will be backed by a social media campaign run by the Australian National Preventive Health Agency and the new plan will include extensive market research to explore the effect of the new system on consumer behaviour.

Breakfast cereals, pre-prepared convenience meals, potato chips, biscuits, juices and drinks, canned products, dairy products, muesli bars and bread will be the first products to feature the new rating system.

The new packaging will apply to all packaged, manufactured or processed foods presented ready-for-sale by retailers. At this stage it will not apply to baby formula or drinks with an alcohol content above 1.15%.