A letter to Ministers: the time is now for labelling

Today we sent a final letter to the MInisters before they meet in Adelaide on Friday, 28 April.

To the Ministers of the ‘Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation’

Re: Recommendation 12 on fats and oils (mandatory labelling of vegetable oils)

Dear Ministers,

With another meeting of the Forum now imminent, I am writing on behalf of Unmask Palm Oil and consumers across Australia and New Zealand. I urge you to support the full introduction of mandatory labelling of vegetable oils. I ask that you consider the following elements when making your decision on ‘Recommendation 12’ tomorrow.

Supporting anything but comprehensive mandatory labelling would be an insufficient response. I would like to note our concern that the Ministers are considering labelling options which would fall short of full mandatory labelling. Labelling of vegetable oils should be mandatory, cover all vegetable oils and be on the ingredients list. The public will not be appeased by a half-cooked labelling solution.

There has been a strong surge in support from the health community calling for this change. The support of the Australian Public Health Association, Australian Medical Association and an impressive collection of public health advocates shows that labelling would improve public health. We know there is a strong case for labelling vegetable oils for business, health and environmental reasons yet there is a strange notion amongst policy officials that the health reasons for labelling and the environmental reasons for labelling are mutually exclusive.

Public support for labelling is overwhelming. Polling conducted across Australia and New Zealand has consistently shown overwhelming public support for labelling. Australia exceeds 80 percent support and New Zealand exceeds 90 percent support with Australian polling showing an even share of respondents wanting labelling for health reasons versus ethical reasons. A vote against mandatory vegetable oil labelling would be a vote against public opinion.

This process has gone on too long and it is time for a final decision. The first recommendation was made in 2009 with the release of the labelling logic report. Now eight years on, it is embarrassing that the Ministerial Forum has still not been able to produce a final decision. I urge you to take a stand on this issue once and for all.

Yours Sincerely,
Ben Dowdle

Unmask Palm Oil