Nature Publishing Group
Background/Objective: Since 2006, the Australian food industry has promoted its front-of-pack (FOP) food labelling system-the Daily Intake Guide (DIG)-as a success story of industry self-regulation. With over 4000 products already voluntary featuring the DIG, the industry argues that government regulation of FOP nutrition labelling is simply unnecessary. However, no independent audit of the industry's self-regulation has ever been undertaken and we present the first such Australian data. Subjects/Methods: Energy-dense nutrient-poor (EDNP) snacks were audited at nine Australian supermarkets, including biscuits, candy, ice creams, chocolates, crisps, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavoured milks, sweetened juices and soft drinks. In these categories nutrition labels were recorded for 728 EDNP products in various packaging sizes. Results: The DIG was displayed on 66% of audited EDNP products but most of these (75%) did not report saturated fat and sugar content. Only generic supermarket EDNP products were likely to display saturated fat and sugar content, compared with very few branded products (48% vs 4%, P<0.001). Branded products not displaying fat and sugar content contained on average 10-times more saturated fat than those displaying such (10% vs 1% DI, P<0.001) and nearly twice as much sugar (21 vs 13% DI, P<0.05). Conclusions: Most Australian manufacturers of EDNP products have adopted the DIG; consistent with industry claims of widespread adoption, but almost all still avoid displaying the high saturated fat and sugar content of their products by opting for the 'energy alone' option, violating the industry's own voluntarily guidelines and highlighting serious weaknesses with the industry's self-regulation.