In a Victorian first, the Andrews Labor Government will implement a mandatory kilojoule labelling scheme, with new laws to be introduced requiring ‘fast food’ outlets to display kilojoule contents on their menus.
The new laws will require large chain food outlets and large supermarkets to display the kilojoule content of food and drinks on menus, menu boards, price tags and online menus.
The proposed scheme will apply to large food chain businesses that have 20 or more outlets in Victoria, or 50 or more outlets nationally.
This is around 3,000 individual outlets in Victoria. It will also apply to large supermarket chains, accounting for around 650 individual outlets in Victoria.
Currently, just over 50 per cent of such Victorian chain food outlets voluntarily display kilojoule content.
The average Australian eats-out more than four times a week, and almost half these meals are energy dense take-away meals such as burgers, chickens, pizzas, noodles and bakery items.
About two thirds of Victorians are overweight or obese, and these rates are rapidly rising. It is estimated that obesity costs Victoria $14.4 billion a year.
Recent data also shows that two-thirds of Victorian adults consume too many kilojoules, and that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased by about 50 per cent in Victoria between 2003 and 2011-12.
International and Australian evidence shows kilojoule labelling is effective in reducing the kilojoules consumed per meal, by allowing them to compare the kilojoule content of meals within and between fast food outlets, and make healthier food choices.
In New South Wales, an evaluation of kilojoule labelling laws found there was a 15 per cent reduction in the kilojoule content of food purchased by people after the labelling laws took effect.
Similar kilojoule labelling schemes have been introduced in New South Wales, South Australia, ACT and recently agreed to by the Queensland Parliament.
Legislation will be introduced into the Victorian Parliament later this year. Once passed, businesses will be given 12 months to comply with the new laws.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“Many people are unaware that a single fast-food meal may contain most of an adult’s daily kilojoule intake.”
“We’re making sure Victorians and their families have the right information to make healthier choices about the food they eat.”
“With rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes increasing at an alarming rate and placing a huge burden on our health system, this is an important step forward in tackling this issue and improving the health of Victorians.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020