Bobby Singh Dhesi and Suzanne Dhesi of Pirlo’s Fruit Barn in Lismore.
Bobby Singh Dhesi and Suzanne Dhesi of Pirlo’s Fruit Barn in Lismore. Patrick Gorbunovs

Labelling a healthy future

WE ALL know junk food is bad for us, and it seems Australians are ready for change.

A new study by Cancer Council Victoria and the Obesity Policy Coalition questioned the main grocery shopper in 1511 households nationwide and showed Australians overwhelmingly supported government legislation that would require traffic light labelling on food packaging.

The study found 88% of those interviewed indicated they would use the system in making better food selections.

Pirlo's Drive-In Fruit Barn owner Suzanne Dhesi said she agreed with the idea of traffic light labelling on food packaging in principle, but was sceptical as to whether it would actually work.

"It will probably work for a little bit, but I don't think it will make a big difference in the long term," Mrs Dhesi said. "If the sticker is out, it might make people think twice about what they buy."

Mrs Dhesi said she had concerns about how the changes would be policed for imported foods and warned the labels would drive prices up.

"I think big businesses should have to show (the new labelling), but for small businesses it may not be viable," Mrs Dhesi said.

Co-author of the study Jane Martin from Obesity Policy Coalition, said she was pleasantly surprised by the findings and the overwhelming support for government reforms.

"I hope the government will take heed of this," Ms Martin said. "Governments should feel confident this action is something the community wants."

The study also found 71% of participants were in favour of a tax on unhealthy food if funds were used to subsidise healthy food, and 69% were in favour of a similar tax levied on soft drink only.