Citrus Australia is shocked and disappointed with today’s decision by State Ministers to endorse a Health Star Rating system that gives diet coke a higher rating than fresh Australian juice.
The Food Regulation Forum, comprising Ministers from every Australian state and territory, met today and rejected Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s proposal to award fresh juice 4 Stars in recognition of its nutritional value.
NSW and SA supported Minister Littleproud’s proposal. Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, the NT, ACT and New Zealand rejected the proposal.
Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said these state governments had lost their way. “We are gutted for our growers that produce world class juice for the Australian population, only to be told diet coke is the better option. What message does that tell the Australian agriculture industry and Australian consumers?
“Despite evidence that fresh juice contains nutrients vital to physical and mental well-being, these governments have deferred to the anti-sugar lobby, which has had fresh juice in its sights since the Health Star Rating system was formed. Governments have missed a chance to encourage consumption of fruit and vegetables in the form of juice, choosing to cave to the anti-sugar brigade against all logic.
“It is a sad day not only for juice growers who already do it tough, and who now have a question mark over the long term viability of their industry as a result of the lost sales that will result from this decision, but for the entire agricultural industry who have been let down by their elected representatives.”
Mr Hancock was particularly upset with the Western Australian, Victorian and Queensland governments. “These states reap the reward of strong citrus growing sectors, who provide financial and social benefits to rural and regional communities. These family operations received no support from their state governments, who deferred to their health departments that had a laser-like focus on one element of juice.
“These governments may as well just relabel the Health Star Rating system as the Hate Sugar Rating system and be done with it. The average consumer in Australia is consuming sugar in products like white bread, breakfast cereal, tinned products and diet yoghurt.
“Instead of supporting an Australian grown and produced product, governments have sent a clumsy message about the relative health benefits of diet soft drink.”
Mr Hancock said the integrity of the Health Star Rating system was already in question – a pack of chips can earn 3 Stars – and this will likely be the final nail in the coffin. We know that many small and large scale companies are planning to remove the HSR logos from their products as a result.”
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