Front of pack labelling
Front of pack labelling refers to nutrition labelling provided on the aisle-facing side of food packages.
Nutrition information is required on all packaged foods (except small packages), but the location of nutrition information on the packet is not prescribed in regulation.
Providing nutrition information on the front of pack is intended to make decision making about foods easier for consumers.
There are two kinds of front of pack labelling: interpretive and non-interpretive. Both are found on the front of a food’s packaging.
Non-interpretive front of pack labelling provides information about the amount of specific nutrients contained in the food, and can also provide information about the proportion of the recommended daily intake those nutrients make up. An example of a non-interpretive front of pack labelling system is the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Daily Intake Guides.
Interpretive front of pack labelling provides information about the nutritional value of the food in a non-numerical, graphical form. Examples of interpretive front of pack labelling include ‘traffic light labelling’ or ‘guiding stars’. Endorsements by health organisations (e.g. the Heart Foundation Tick) are also forms of interpretive labelling.
At present, the existing evidence does not indicate that front of pack labelling has a significant impact on food purchases. However, there is agreement across stakeholder groups (e.g. public health groups, industry, consumers) that nutrition labelling on foods could be improved.
In February 2012, the Minister for Food Safety, Hon Kate Wilkinson, appointed an Advisory Group to develop an approach to voluntary interpretive front of pack labelling in New Zealand. The Advisory Group members were selected for their expertise, their familiarity with the food regulatory system, and their networks across the public health groups, academia and the food industry.
One of the key matters the Advisory Group considered when developing its report was the need for front of pack labelling in New Zealand to be consistent with the approach to front of pack labelling adopted in Australia. The Australian Government is also working with industry, public health, and consumer groups on an approach to voluntary interpretive front of pack labelling. The Australian process is due to report back in mid 2013.