Consumers have the right to full information about the healthiness of food they are purchasing, the Green Party said today.
This is in response to a recent complaint made to the Commerce Commission about the Heart Foundation Tick being awarded to foods that are almost half sugar, because sugar is not included in the Tick's criteria for health.
"The Heart Foundation Tick says it allows consumers to identify the healthier choice, but if it doesn't include sugar then it undermines the public's confidence in health information," Green Party food spokesperson Mojo Mathers said today.
"Too much sugar in our diets is a huge problem and I can't see why products that are almost half sugar are being approved as healthier options.
"Diabetes, dental decay and obesity are all linked to excess sugar consumption. These are huge problems for our health system and we need to be better at giving consumers information.
"We agree with the complaint that a product that is almost half sugar should not be receiving a well-recognised health tick.
"What we need are comprehensive standards for health labelling that make sure that they give the full health story that consumers have a right to.
"The Heart Foundation work very hard to reduce heart disease in New Zealand, but the public perception of what their Tick means compared with what it actually means demonstrates the need for national labelling standards for healthy food.
"Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson is due to have received a report with recommendations for an approach to front of pack labelling for New Zealand. We are looking forward to hearing the outcome of that.
"In 2009 Milo backed down from getting the heart tick after nutritionists spoke out about the amount of sugar in the drink; this is not a new issue for the Heart Foundation.
"The Green Party has long advocated for a 'traffic light' labelling system on food that will help consumers to quickly identify healthy food, and a comprehensive system like this would get around the limitations of a tick based on limited criteria," said Ms Mathers.