We believe New Zealanders have the right to know what they are consuming.
That is why we support sensible measures that will ensure New Zealanders have access to the right information at the right time to make the best nutritional decisions for themselves and their families.
Nutrition Information Panel
All beverages sold in New Zealand (except for plain bottled water) must clearly display a Nutrition Information Panel (NIP), as required by the Australia New Zealand Food Code.
NIPs look similar across all products, making it easy to compare the nutritional make-up of different products.
NIPs on beverages provide information on how many servings per package and the serving size. Nutritional information is outlined ‘per serve’ and ‘per 100 ml’.
The first component of the NIP is Energy, which is provided in kilojoules. Some beverage providers might also convert kilojoules into calories on their NIPs.
Beneath Energy, you will find Protein, Fat (Total and Saturated Fat), Carbohydrates (total and sugars), Dietary Fibre and Sodium. Like energy, these are listed ‘per serve’ and ‘per 100 ml’ in grams (or milligrams).
The amount of energy in a beverage depends primarily on the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate present.
Fat contains the highest amount of kilojoules per gram, followed by carbohydrate and protein.
Some NIPs may also contain a % Daily Intake column. This is a voluntary measurement and helps consumers better understand how a product can fit into their daily diet.
It is important to note that the % Daily Intake Column is based on an average adult diet of 8,700kJ per day and are stipulated in the Food Code. It should be used as a guide, and the correct level for each level may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs.
Health Star Rating
The New Zealand Beverage Council strongly supports the Government’s Health Star Rating System.
The Health Star Rating system is a voluntary labelling system that makes it easier to choose healthier foods and beverages. It uses a star rating scale of half-a-star to five stars – products with more stars are healthier than similar foods with fewer stars.
Health Star Ratings rate the overall nutrition content and healthiness of products. The star rating system was developed by the New Zealand and Australian Governments, in collaboration with public health experts, the food industry and consumer groups.
Products are given a number of stars based on their nutrients, ingredients and the amount of energy (kilojoules) they provide. Manufacturers work out the rating of their product by putting nutrition information into the ‘Health Star Rating Calculator’.
Products get more stars if they are:
- Low in saturated fat, sugar or sodium (salt)
- Higher in healthy nutrients and ingredients (fibre, protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts or legumes).
Health Star Ratings can appear on labels in a few different ways. Some foods can only carry the overall Health Star Ratings of the product. Other products include information about specific nutrients (such as fats or sugars).
Nutrition Content Claims and Health Claims
Health claims are voluntary statements made by manufacturers on labels and in advertising. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Code Standard 1.2.7 sets out the rules relating to health claims.
Nutrition content claims are claims about the content of certain nutrients or substances in a food, such as low in fat, or a good source of calcium. These claims need to meet the criteria set out in the Standard.
Health claims, on the other hand, refer to a relationship between a food and health rather than a statement of content. There are two types of health claims:
- General level health claims refer to a nutrient or substance in a food, or the food itself, and its effect on health. For example, calcium for healthy bones and teeth. They must not refer to a serious disease or to a biomarker for a serious disease.
- High level health claims refer to a nutrient or substance in a food and its relationship to a serious disease or to a biomarker of a serious disease. For example: Diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in people 65 years and over.
Beverage companies making general level health claims are able to base their claims on one of the more than 200 pre-approved food-health relationships in the Food Code or self-substantiate a food-health relationship, in accordance with detailed requirements set out in the Standard.
High level health claims must be based on a food-health relationship pre-approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. There are currently 13 pre-approved food-health relationships for high level health claims listed in the Standard.
All health claims are required to be supported by scientific evidence. In addition, health claims are only permitted on products that meet the nutrient profiling scoring criterion, which means health claims will not be allowed on foods high in saturated fat, sugar or salt.
We are open to sensible labelling changes that make it easier for kiwis to have access to the right information at the right time to make the best decisions for both themselves and their families.
We understand that some consumers are concerned about their sugar intake and would like sugar content to be more prominently labelled on packaging (such as through the number of teaspoons of sugar contained in a product, graphic warnings or graphic images).
While we understand these concerns, we do recommend caution before singling out and highlighting a single nutritional component of a product. What is important is the total kilojoules in a product.
The amount of sugar contained in a product is already clearly outlined in a products Nutritional Information Panel and is also a key input into the calculation of the product’s Healthy Star Rating.
The overall consensus of scientific evidence on sugar also shows it does not have a unique effect on body weight beyond its contribution to total kilojoule intake.
That is why we believe the focus should remain on the total kilojoules contained in a beverage, rather than the amount of sugar, because this provides the most accurate indication of the total energy content of a product.