Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 401. Updated Tuesday, 18 March 2014

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Food labelling not on our menu: ANPHA

The Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) has responded firmly to recent incorrect media reports linking the Agency to food labelling.

The Chair and Deputy Chair of the ANPHA Advisory Council - Professors Christine Bennett and Rob Moodie - claim an article in The Weekend Australian earlier this month has caused some confusion.

The Agency said it did not have carriage of the food labelling process or outcomes, including the 'star ratings' system which was in part the subject of the article.

It said information on this matter could be found at the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Professor Bennett said the Advisory Council had previously noted the importance of good information in the marketplace for consumers.

Agency hits back at article

She said good information assisted in making "healthy choices the easy choices" which enabled consumers to take responsibility for good nutrition decisions for themselves and their families.

Professor Bennett said the Agency provided on its website a lot of excellent information on how to have and maintain good nutrition.

She said the article was primarily directed at regulation and specifically over-regulation.

"Clearly no one supports ineffective regulation," Professor Bennett said.

"But we do need a sophisticated approach to analysis of the effectiveness of laws and regulations to support good public policy decisions."

Professor Bennett said it was easy to pick an example of a regulation that had not worked, but Australia's seat belt and drink-driving laws showed how effective prevention had been in reducing road deaths.

She said children's nightwear and toy safety rules had also prevented tragic loss and injury, and new research that showed the lifelong impact of passive smoking on children's health had led to the banning of smoking in motor vehicles when children are present.

"The list could go on," Professor Bennett said.

"Common sense tells us that prevention is better than cure in many cases and sometimes it requires rules and regulations for a nation to achieve its preferred outcomes for health, safety and wellbeing."

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