Supermarkets sign up to childhood obesity pledge plan
New Zealand supermarkets have joined the fight against childhood obesity, signing up to a range of measures to support government backed initiatives.
Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises, the owners of New Zealand's three main supermarket chains, along with Moore Wilson's and Bin Inn have signed up to support product reformulation, education campaigns, the provision of healthy choices and the use of the governments Health Star Ratings on private labels.
The groups have also pledged to ensure "advertising of food to children is of a high ethical standard".
This week the Ministry of Health will host a forum where the industry is expected to commit to "high level pledges designed to help drive further change".
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Retail NZ spokesman Greg Harford said the supermarkets were committing to ethical and responsible advertising of food to children and would ensure obesity was highlighted in corporate responsibility reporting.
"While we believe that it is the responsibility of individuals to make their own food choices, retailers welcome the chance to work with government agencies and the wider industry, to support initiatives which give consumers more information and education to make more informed choices about their food."
Other food retailers could join join the Retail NZ pledge, he said.
Another government announcement on obesity is imminent but it is not expected involve any regulatory changes around sugar content and advertising, or taxes on unhealthy foods or drinks.
Foodstuffs managing director Steve Anderson said as the largest food retailer in New Zealand, the company had a role to play in helping support creating healthier communities.
"We believe that long-term change can be achieved if consumers are supported through a wide range of initiatives that help people make more informed choices, including greater access to healthier alternatives through reformulation."
Countdown spokesman James Walker said the supermarket was committed encouraging healthy choices as part of the wider efforts to address health challenges in New Zealand.
Heart Foundation food and nutrition manager Dave Monro said while the pledge represented a great start, there was still a lot of opportunity for major industry players to do more.
Foodstuffs has pledged to complete the roll out of the Health Star Ratings across its private label products, while Countdown said it would complete its rollout of the ratings by the end of 2018.
Countdown has also said it would review the nutrition of 1000 private label products by 2018 and, where necessary, reformulate the products.