Australian Department of Health - Food and Health Dialogue
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Food and Health Dialogue newsletter - 1st edition

Welcome to the first edition of the Food and Health Dialogue e – Newsletter!

The Food and Health Dialogue (Dialogue) was established in 2009 and forms the Government’s key method of engagement with the food industry in the area of food reformulation. Through the Dialogue, government, industry and public health groups are working collaboratively to address poor dietary habits and promote healthier food choices for all Australians.

The 2007 National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that the dietary patterns of many Australian children are less than optimal with high consumption of salt and saturated fat, and low consumption of fruit and vegetables. Because the health implications associated with these consumption patterns are well understood and similar results would be expected within the adult population, the Dialogue was established as one mechanism to try and improve dietary intakes.

The Dialogue is undertaking, as its primary activity, action on food innovation. This includes a voluntary reformulation program to reduce the sodium, added sugar, saturated fat and energy and increase the fibre, wholegrain, fruit and vegetable content of commonly consumed foods. This activity is being supported, where appropriate, by strategies to standardise portion sizes and improve consumer awareness of healthier food choices.

The Dialogue is chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, the Hon Catherine King MP. Membership comprises:

Website Launch

As part of the Dialogue’s communication strategy a new website has been launched. The website provides information to industry, consumers and public health groups on Dialogue activities, including agreed reformulation targets, as well as further opportunities for industry partners to promote their involvement in the Dialogue.

For more information visit the Food and Health Dialogue website.

Reformulation Targets Achieved

Since 2009 the Dialogue has achieved agreement with the food industry on sodium reformulation targets for four food categories – bread, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, simmer sauces and processed meats. Saturated fat reformulation targets have also been agreed for processed meat products.

Achievements to date include commitments by participating companies to:

Upcoming Activities

The four food categories to be engaged by the Dialogue from 2011 are Soup, Savoury Pies, Cheese and Processed Poultry. The Soup roundtable met for the first time on 26 July 2011 and is scheduled to convene again on 26 October 2011.

With an increasing proportion of food consumed away from home, the Dialogue has agreed to include the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) sector in its reformulation, portion sizing and consumer messaging activities. Efforts are currently underway to develop an engagement strategy in collaboration with the sector.

Further information on Dialogue activities is available on the Food and Health Dialogue website.

Food Innovation Workshops - October 2011

The Chair of the Dialogue, the Hon Catherine King MP, today opened the first of three one-day food innovation workshops in Melbourne. The workshop included presentations from national and international speakers involved in food innovation and reformulation, and was attended by more than 100 representatives from the industry, government and research sectors.

“What people eat has a major impact on their health,” Ms King said. “It is important therefore that we make healthier food choices easier and more accessible for all Australians.

“Today’s workshop showcased opportunities to make our food supply healthier through reformulation, including by reducing levels of salt and fat in processed meats and dairy foods.”

Presentation topics included: The series of workshops is being staged by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on behalf of the Department of Health. The second workshop will be held in Sydney on 25 October, with the final workshop to be held in Brisbane on 27 October 2011. The workshops are being streamed live to participants in Western Australia via video link.