The Food Industry Group
posted by admin on 12 August 2008
The Ministry of Health has developed an effective working relationship with the Food Industry Group. During 2007, the Food Industry Group identified seven main areas or projects with associated goals and activities which are designed to:
- help address the obesity issue in New Zealand
- improve the nutritional intake of New Zealanders
- increase New Zealanders’ physical activity.
Most of the projects have a timeframe of 2007 to 2008 and will be revised and re-documented for 2008 to 2009. The projects and goals can be referenced to the relevant areas in the HEHA Implementation Plan. Specific timelines and targets for each project will be developed during 2008. The 2007/08 projects can be viewed on http://www.fig.org.nz
Children’s Food Classification System
On 3 May 2007 the Ministers of Education, Broadcasting and Health agreed with major television broadcasters on a five-point plan to improve food advertising to children. One of the initiatives, the Children’s Food Classification System, imposes restrictions on television advertising of foods and beverages during children’s programming times.
The Children’s Food Classification System has been developed by the New Zealand Television Broadcasters’ Council and was implemented in May 2008. It uses the Ministry of Health’s Food and Beverage Classification System as the primary basis for determining the eligibility of food or beverages to be advertised in children’s programming times.
As the Food and Beverage Classification System was originally developed for food provision within schools and early childhood services, further consideration of foods in a variety of settings was needed. Where appropriate, supporting assessments will also be obtained from the Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s food profiling model and an independent nutritionist appointed by the Television Broadcasters’ Council. The Children’s Food Classification System will be reviewed annually in consultation with a committee of interested third parties including government officials.
Food Classification for Pre-vetting and Monitoring
The Health Select Committee Inquiry into Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes 2007 and the Government response highlighted the need for a classification system to distinguish between foods and beverages that are suitable for marketing to children and those that are not suitable. A number of food classification systems have been developed both in New Zealand and overseas for a variety of purposes and applications.
Following advice from experts in food classification, the Ministry of Health has decided to use the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criteria developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The Ministry has adapted the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criteria slightly to help the food and advertising industries determine whether a food or beverage product is higher in fat, salt and sugar or lower in fat, salt and sugar, based on its nutrient profile. The Ministry recommends that children (0 to 14 years) are not exposed to the marketing of products that rate higher in fat, salt and sugar.
The Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criteria are a useful tool for the food and advertising industries in pre-vetting and monitoring food marketing.
The Communication Agencies Association of New Zealand is working with the Ministry of Health to develop a presentation about nutrition and obesity for the major advertising agencies. The presentation will be used to educate agency staff about the need to reduce the advertising of high fat, sugar and salt foods to children.
The Communication Agencies Association of New Zealand has proposed that a new category of healthy food advertising be included in the Advertising Effectiveness Awards. This will encourage advertisers and their agencies to promote their healthier products and brands.
Health Select Committee Inquiry into Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Recommendations and Advertising Standards Authority
The Inquiry made a number of recommendations that related to children and food marketing. The Ministry of Health is working in collaboration with the Advertising Standards Authority to address the recommendations. Areas covered will include:
- reviewing the Code for Advertising to Children and the Code for Advertising of Food
- investigating the feasibility of establishing a pre-vetting system for food marketing to children similar to the Liquor Advertising Pre-vetting System administered by the Association of New Zealand Advertisers
- achieving industry-wide agreement to targets for reducing advertising of high fat, sugar and salt foods to children
- strengthening the advertising complaints system.
The Ministry of Health is funding a number of projects with the aim of improving the nutrient profile of certain foods. Altering the formulation of high-volume and low-cost foods has the potential to bring about large changes to the food supply, in particular for foods consumed by those people most at risk.
National and international food reformulation programmes have shown that significant improvements can be made within certain key high-volume and low-cost food categories. These include bread, processed meat, breakfast cereals, chips and pies.
The National Heart Foundation is working on several reformulation projects starting with lowering the salt content in bread.
The ‘Chip Group’ includes food industry representatives and the National Heart Foundation as well as Horticulture New Zealand and the Potato Growers of New Zealand. The group’s overall goal is to reduce the fat content of chips by 20 percent. New industry standards have been developed that will help shops serve up tastier and healthier chips to their customers, using recommendations by the National Heart Foundation on which oils to use.
A similar group, also made up of industry and health sector representatives, is looking at the nutrient profile of pies and working towards industry standards that could be adopted by manufacturers as well as local bakeries.
Individual companies are reformulating their product ranges and the Food Industry Group has developed a database to track food industry progress towards a healthier food environment. Changes to pack or portion sizes, and food reformulations to reduce levels of fat, sugar and salt and increase beneficial nutrients, are recorded. These are documented in the Food Industry Group Interim Annual Report 2008 which can be accessed at http://www.fig.org.nz
Food Retail Project
A project to create supportive food retail environments is underway. The aim is to:
- increase the promotion, presence, access to and purchase of healthier foods (foods low in fat, sugar and salt)
- reduce the promotion, presence, access to and purchase of less healthy foods (foods high in fat, sugar and salt).
The approach proposed by the Ministry of Health is based on increasing collaboration between the food retail industry and the health sector, with joint development and implementation of the Healthy Food Marketing Framework.
Meetings have been held with representatives of several retail sectors. The supermarkets responded favourably to the proposals presented at the first joint supermarket meeting held in February 2008. A second meeting will be held towards the middle of 2008 to establish the process for moving forward.
Fruit and Vegetable Promotion
Work towards meeting the Ministry target to increase the consumption of vegetables and fruit will be incorporated in a number of projects including the Food Retail Project.