SENATOR Ron Boswell holds a bottle of Coke in one hand and a bottle of milk in the other.
Which one, he asks, will appear to be healthier if a new traffic light system of food labelling is introduced?
"It's crazy, but it's the Coke,"; he said.
The Nationals Senator for Queensland came to Rockhampton as part of the food industry campaign against the labelling system which will be applied to all processed foods if approved by a majority of states before the end of the year.
At a supermarket in North Rockhampton he argued the red, amber and green labels for fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content would present consumers with confusing and misleading information.
"Milk would get three amber lights and only one green, but the cola would get three greens and only one red, for sugar, giving the impression it is the healthier product,"; Senator Boswell said.
"At the same time a lot of good, healthy Australian products, like tinned pineapples that might have been grown in Yeppoon, would appear dangerous.";
He said he feared the system, which had been considered but rejected in Europe and around the world, would cost Australian jobs in the sugar and food processing industries.
"Effectively putting a stop sign on something wholesome like milk and cheese is just not right,"; he said.
Senator Boswell said the Nationals supported the food industry and believed the industry should be allowed to make progress without being unfairly hindered.
He said the existing system, which comprises a daily intake guide, was far more effective at helping consumers make informed choices.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council is also campaigning against the proposal on the grounds it will infer fruit products, high in natural sugars, are as unhealthy as lollies.
The traffic light system is favoured by the Australian and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, but whether it becomes national policy will depend on a simple majority of states.
- System is used voluntarily in the UK.
- Supporters say the lights are easy to understand and give companies an incentive to produce healthier foods.
- Diet cola drinks might get four green lights, giving the illusion of total endorsement.