A new report that ranks Australia’s largest food and beverage manufacturers on their nutrition policies and practices has been released, indicating that the food industry is making little progress in creating healthier food environments, and government action is urgently needed.

Led by RE-FRESH: Next Generation members Professor Gary Sacks and Ms. Jasmine Chan,  Inside Our Food and Beverage Manufacturers collected information on food company policies and practices from publicly available sources including website and company sustainability reports, focusing on company policies and practices in six key areas:

(1) corporate strategy,

(2) product formulation,

(3) nutrition labelling,

(4) responsible marketing of unhealthy products and brands (especially to children),

(5) accessibility and affordability of healthy foods,

(6) transparency of external relationships.

The evidence collected was scored against industry benchmarks and public health best practice. Scores in each topic were combined to calculate an overall score out of 100 for each company, repeating an assessment that took place in 2018.

The companies were invited to verify the data and provide further information. Sixteen companies chose to engage in this process.

Professor Sacks said the goal was to recognise good practice, highlight areas for improvement, and advocate for sector-wide improvements so that food manufacturing companies can better contribute to improving population health.

‘While this shows some progress from the sector on nutrition over the past 5 years, improvements in food manufacturer policies on nutrition are too slow.’ Professor Sacks said.

‘Governments need to take stronger action to ensure that food companies better support Australians to eat healthily.

‘Many countries around the world have already mandated nutritional labels on packaged foods. Chile has also put in place comprehensive laws that stop food companies from advertising unhealthy foods and drinks to children (including using cartoon characters and through sponsorships), and to stop selling unhealthy foods from being sold in schools.

For more information about the report, including a one-page summary, visit the ‘Inside Our Food Companies’ website


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