Healthy :: Make healthy and safer choices for you and your family

A new book launched by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Brett Mason, aims to decipher the meaning of food labels.

Senator Mason said most people lead busy lives and don?t always have time to work out exactly what food labels mean.

?Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has developed a new book, Choosing the Right Stuff – the official shoppers? guide to food additives and labels, kilojoules and fat content, to answer consumers? questions about food labelling,? he said.

Launching Choosing the Right Stuff at Parliament House in Canberra today, Senator Mason said that diet-related disease was a major concern for all Australians.

?Each year diet-related risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity (in both adults and children) and Type 2 diabetes, account for 13 per cent of Australia and New Zealand?s burden of disease,? Senator Mason said.

?Much of the information we need to know about healthy eating can already be found on food labels. However, research by FSANZ indicates that while consumers appreciate and use the information on food labels, they don?t always know how to interpret it into healthy eating patterns. For example, people might read on a food label that there are 1112 mg of sodium in a serve but they don?t know whether that is a large or small amount when, in fact, that is quite a large amount as we should only be consuming 2300 mg a day.?

?During the recent debate on trans fats, I was disappointed to find that, while our consumption of trans fats remains low, Australians are still consuming far in excess of the amount of saturated fats recommended by the World Health Organization.

?Information on saturated fats has been mandatory on food labels for more than five years. While an occasional treat is fine, we need to check the food we consume daily and, if necessary, make better choices for the sake of our health.

?I urge you to get a copy of this book and follow the healthy eating advice. We can make small changes immediately that can make a big difference. For example, healthier options include eating five serves of vegetables and two of fruit each day, having two to three serves of fish a week, reducing overall fat intake, limiting transfats and saturated fats, and eating more wholegrains.

?You may also want to take the opportunity to contact the many useful organisations listed in the book that can provide healthy eating advice,? Senator Mason said.

The book contains information on:

how to make informed choices about healthier eating from reading nutrition information and claims such as ?low fat? and ?reduced salt?
what is in the ingredients list, percentage labelling of the key ingredient and the country of origin of the food
food recalls, storage requirements and allergens
genetically modified foods, novel foods, irradiated foods and food additives including a full list of food additives by name and number
the kilojoules and fat in commonly eaten foods and drinks
a list of useful contacts for more information.

Choosing the Right Stuff- the official shoppers? guide to food additives and labels, kilojoules and fat content is available now in bookshops. It is published by Murdoch books (ISBN 978-1-921208-40-9) and has a recommended retail price of $14.96.

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