By Val Cocksedge
NCWQ Nutrition Adviser
A major independent five year review into Australia’s Star Rating system was released in February 2019. An overhaul of the Health Star Rating is among recommendations to bring the system into line with the current dietary guidelines aiming to have Australians make better food choices. Harsher calculations for total sugars, sodium, a refining of dairy categories are among other recommendations. Another key recommendation includes removing the option for manufacturers to use only the energy icon where kilojoules are displayed on the front of the package as opposed to clear star rating.
- Plain water would receive a 5 star rating;
- flavoured waters 4.5;
- 100% fruit and vegetable juices between 2.5 and 4 stars
- diet drinks no more than 3.5 stars and
- sugary soft drinks between 0.5 and 2 stars.
The proposed changes would see decreases of approximately 8% of products health star ratings and increases to ratings of 15% of food products.
According to Canadian research published last November, fruit and vegetable foods containing fructose have no harmful effect on blood sugars, fruit has fibre and is filling and a nutritious snack for children (Kate De Prima-DAA) however sugar in sweetened drinks is empty calories. Most Australians consume more than the maximum six teaspoons of added sugar each day – a limit set by the World Health Organisation. The Cancer Council’s Live Light Calculator shows there are
- 16 teaspoons of sugar in both a 600ml bottle of Coke and Orange Juice-
- 5 teaspoons in 500 ml vitamin water and
- 13 teaspoons in a carton of chocolate milk.
- popular icy poles contain as much as 5 teaspoons in a single item.
Cheap frozen sugary drinks – slushes are additive.
Health Minister, Steven Miles, has put the food and beverage industry on notice noting they needed to do more to address Australia’s growing obesity crisis or face further regulation – food and beverage industry representatives were exploiting people for profit. There is ample evidence that with marketing and store placement some companies are exploiting the socio economic status of people for profit. Two thirds of Australian adults and one quarter of children aged 5 -17 are overweight or obese. More than 1.2 million of Queenslanders are classified as obese.
Children are being exposed to junk food advertising on line and on social media by companies, using filters, interactive games etc. to recruit a new generation of junk food customers – marketing dressed up as entertainment and education to circumvent codes around not marketing to kids.
UK’s top doctor advocated families should eat their meals at the dinner table to improve children’s health and brain power. When people are using screens, watching television their calorie intake goes up and often their salt intake. Mindless eating fuelled obesity and stunted child development.
Fruit and vegetables are left off many menus. Parents are among the worst offenders for not consuming the recommended intake of fruit and vegetables, The good news is – those who do eat vegetables are consuming spinach, kale, lettuce once or more times in a three day period. The Eat Real Survey of 22000 Australians shows that while many think they are having a healthy life style, their daily diet shows a different story:-
- overall only 7% are eating their recommended dietary intake of fruit and vegetables,
- 30% consume 3 or more serves of protein – up from 18% in 2015,
- dairy and whole grain consumption is still falling short of the daily requirement. More Australians are skipping breakfast.
- Consumption of coffee and tea over 3 days has increased from 77% in 2015 to 83% in 2018.
- Consumption of discretionary foods (cakes, biscuits, lollies, soft drinks) have also risen.
- One in five Australians say they consume fast food such as McDonalds or KFC every three days. Many Australians have good intentions but fast paced lives lead to poor choices.
- only 22% are getting recommended intake of dairy (2.5 serves),
- 5% are eating recommended intake of five serves of healthy whole grains,
- 38% are meeting the recommended 8-10 glasses of water a day,
- 30% have 3 or more serves of protein (18% -n 2015) – seafood, nuts, seeds, eggs, tofu, tempeh and legumes,
- 10% are meeting recommended 5 serves of vegetables a day,
- 31% had consumed a serve of probiotic yoghurt or kefir in a 3 day period (up from 15% in 2015) and
- 1 in 8 – 13% had consumed fermented vegetables (up from 7%).
Eat Real Challenge provides quick and simple recipes on a budget over a 14 day period to encourage new and delicious recipes for all to enjoy. https://www.taste.com.au/
Time starved consumers are taking up the convenience of healthy home delivered services for prepared meals or ingredient packages –healthy convenience food compared to frozen pizza or take away.
Australia’s first egg-in –shell pasteurisation facility has opened on the Darling Downs amid growing concerns of food borne illnesses. The company, Australian Pasteurised Eggs, is already supplying aged care homes such as those operated by Aveo, allowing the elderly to enjoy a more varied diet. They are also supplying Airlines for first class and business customers. The appearance and texture of the white and yolk is unaffected by the process. The technology used by the company is licensed from U.S. Michael Foods and each egg is stamped with a P symbol.
The Queen Garnet plum developed by Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is rich in antioxidants and probiotics. The bottled juice, powders and probiotics are to be exported to China. The Woods Group, Goondiwindi specialises in crop management, seed cultivation, pulse and grain processing and transport. They process faba beans into a range of nutritious, gluten-free , nut-free and plant based products that are high in protein, and fibre. It is a genuine “paddock to plate”.