Federal Member for Mallee Anne Webster says the decision today by state health ministers to ignore the health benefits of fruit juice fails Australian consumers.
“100% natural Australian fruit juice will be stripped of its 5-star health rating, and may well be ranked lower than diet soft drink.” Dr Webster said
“The decision today, made by some state health ministers, fails to acknowledge the natural health benefits of fresh juice.’
“A product’s health star rating is calculated using an algorithm that looks at total sugar. The calculator does consider the FVNL (Fruit, vegetable, nut and legume) component of fresh juice. Therefore, the nutrients, vitamins and any fibre the juice contains are not taken into account. This is clearly counterintuitive.
“The decision of the forum will cause confusion to consumers and hammer an industry already struggling after a tough year. It could well put at risk the health of many, for whom fresh fruit juice is their means to consume the recommended daily intake of fruit.
“This decision goes a step further to undermine the health star rating system. By forcing a natural product to possibly have less stars than a wholly manufactured product, consumers will question the validity of the system itself.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said that thousands of Australian citrus and apple businesses as well as our food manufacturing sector will be disappointed that the Food Ministers Forum has today voted to classify pure Australian fruit and vegie juices in the same health category as soft drink.
“It’s madness. Fresh, pure, vitamin-rich Aussie OJ is better than soft drink every day of the week and our Health Star Rating system should reflect this,” Minister Littleproud said.
“At a time when we need more jobs, and our farm and food processing sector need more support, governments are abandoning them.
“It will cause consumer confusion and impact sales in an already difficult year for farmers.
“I’m all for ensuring good consumer health outcomes, but this lacks common sense.
“It is a kick in the guts for our 1900 citrus farmers and the $800 million economic contribution they make through juice production.”