Be treatwise®

We all love a treat, and chocolates and lollies bring pleasure by tantalising our taste buds. Confectionery can be a fun and enjoyable part of our lives.

The Be treatwise® logo, on the front of confectionery packs, encourages people to ‘Enjoy a balanced diet’ and to be mindful of the energy content in the confectionery they consume.

Be treatwise® complements the mandatory nutrition information on the back of pack. Nutrition Information Panels (NIPs) on all types of food packaging are comprehensive and give information on serving size as well as additional nutrition information, and in some cases, optional percentage daily intakes (%DIs). This information helps us understand what we are eating and guides us to achieve balance in our overall diet.

 

Treats in a balanced diet

Good nutrition is vital for the growth and development of children, both physically and mentally, and for the well-being of adults. This is reflected in the established Australian Dietary Guidelines  that promotes healthy eating.  In particular, they advise that to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs. In relation to sugar intake, the guidelines recommend we limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars.

Balanced eating means that treat/discretionary foods may be eaten sometimes and in small amounts, while other foods from the five core food groups should be eaten each day along with drinking plenty of water.

The five core food groups are:

  • vegetables and legumes/beans
  • fruit
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre varieties
  • lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legume/beans
  • milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat

 
Adults and children can enjoy a treat – such as lollies or chocolate – now and then, as these foods can add variety and enjoyment to eating within the context of a healthy, balanced diet – it is about moderation. Beyond health, eating is also a social part of our lives.

Nutrition Information Panels

Australian food regulations require all packaged food to provide a nutrition information panel (NIP).  NIPs provide information on the average amount of energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars and sodium (a component of salt). Other nutrients may also be detailed if a nutrition claim is made.

The energy represents the total amount of kilojoules from protein, fat, carbohydrate, dietary fibre and alcohol that is released when food is used by the body.

The NIP is usually found on the back of the pack and must be presented in a standard, regulated format. It shows serve size and serves per pack, the average amount of energy and nutrients per serve and per 100g (or 100mL if liquid) of the food.

There are a few foods that don’t require a NIP, for example, some small packages, fresh fruit and vegetables, foods sold unpacked or water.

Further information on NIP labelling may be found the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website or the Australian Dietary Guidelines Eat for Health website also has a section on understanding food labels.

Understanding serve sizes

Under food law, the NIP is required to inform a consumer of serving size. Whilst serving sizes are not prescribed, the manufacturer is required to indicate a realistic portion of the food that a person might normally consume.

The per serve information is useful in estimating how much of a nutrient or energy you are eating.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines considers the role of discretionary items, including confectionery, and suggests typical serving sizes for treat/discretionary food choices is the amount that contains about 600kJ of energy, for example:

  • 2-3 (35g) sweet biscuits
  • 1 slice (40g) plain cake or small cake-type muffin
  • ½ small bar (25g) chocolate
  • ½ snack size packet (30g) salty crackers or crisps
  • 12 (60g) fried hot chips
  • 1 can (375ml) soft drink

 

Confectionery industry serving sizes are generally based on 25g, but can vary between 20g and 30g. There may be deviation where consumption is self-limiting (ie sugarfree) or packaging format influences the serve.
 
At the heart of the confectionery industry’s Be treatwise® message is responsible consumption and serves, including the promotion of easy-to-understand serve sizes to explain the energy value of a confectionery treat. Where possible the confectionery industry is translating the serve size quantity, ie ‘per 25g’ with the use of a descriptor, such as ‘per row’ in a block of chocolate, ‘per 2 snakes’ in a bag of sugar confectionery or ‘per x pieces’.
Percentage daily intake

The optional percentage daily intake (%DI) labelling in the NIP shows the %DI of energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars and sodium that are contained on a per serve basis, as set out in Australian food regulations. %DI is based on an average adult diet of 8700kJ. However, a person’s daily intake may be higher or lower depending upon their individual energy needs. This variation is reflected in the amount of energy that you use each day through regular daily activities and exercise.

To make sure consumers have enough information to make the best dietary choices, the confectionery industry frequently includes %DI details in the NIP and %DI energy, together with the serve size, on the front of pack.

The %DI declared is based on the quantity contained in the suggested serve or portion of the product, which a person would reasonably be expected to consume at any one time – recognising that confectionery packaging and portion sizes vary.

Health Star Rating System

Approved in June 2014, the government led Health Star Rating (HSR) System rates food products on a scale from ½ to five stars on the front of food packs and is being implemented voluntarily over five years.  The HSR System was developed to provide a simple way to compare similar packaged foods (in the same category), making it easier for consumers to make informed food purchases and healthier eating choices at-a-glance.  The more stars the healthier the choice (within category).

The HSR System was developed through a collaborative process involving governments, industry, public health organisations and consumer groups; and has been endorsed by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation. An initial review of the progress of implementation was schedule at two years with a full review at five years.

The number of stars a product receives is determined by a calculator that scores the overall nutritional profile.  The calculator was developed in consultation with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and other technical and nutrition experts and takes into account the energy, saturated fat, sugars, sodium, protein, dietary fibre, fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content of a food.

To date over 5500 products from over 115 companies displaying the HSR are available in stores in Australia, and this number is growing every week.

For confectionery, Be treatwise® may be used in conjunction with the HSR System. In many circumstances this will mean use only of the energy icon, agreed as part of the Ministerial approval for the System. The confectionery industry has the option to use the full range of the HSR System hierarchy, or use the energy icon alone, co-existing with the industry’s voluntary responsible consumption message – Be treatwise®. This is intended to accommodate specific confectionery industry issues, such as the size of product and industry’s consumer message for a treat product. This recognises that consumer research clearly showed the majority of people understand confectionery as an occasional/treat food and the energy or kilojoule information being provided on front of pack as being most important. Information about individual nutrients is still available in the comprehensive, mandatory NIP on back of pack.

Be treatwise® co-existing with the HSR System energy icon

Front of pack

Front of Pack

Back of pack

Back of pack

The HSR System is designed to be used in combination with a balanced diet and is one tool to assist Australians in following a healthy diet. Consideration should be given to other information such as the Australian Dietary Guidelines. This guide provides information to help all Australians enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from each of the five core food groups.

As an alternative to the HSR System, the confectionery industry may choose to use the food industry’s voluntary Daily Intake Guide (DIG).

For more information visit the Health Star Rating System website.

Balanced choices

The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide up-to-date advice about the amount and kinds of foods that we need to eat for health and wellbeing. This includes information on the number of serves from each of the five food groups required for healthy eating depending upon your age, gender, weight, height and physical activity levels.

It is important to consume a wide variety of foods from the five food groups every day and drink plenty of water.  The five food groups are:

  • vegetables and legumes/beans
  • fruit
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre varieties
  • lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legume/beans
  • milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat

 
The Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest that additional portions of the five core food groups, unsaturated spreads/oils or discretionary food choices are needed only by those that are taller or more active to meet additional energy requirements. They also recommend that Australians consume discretionary foods ‘only sometimes and in small amounts’.

Discretionary foods, however, including confectionery, can add variety and enjoyment to eating within the context of a healthy, balanced diet – it is about moderation.

Being balanced is all about our food choices firstly and balancing food intake according to our personal needs which takes into account our activity levels.

This means balancing our energy intake with our energy output.

Understanding energy
Food provides us with the energy to do daily tasks, exercise and keep our hearts beating and lungs breathing. This energy is measured in kilojoules (kJ) (or both kJ and calories (Cal). There are about 4.18 kilojoules in a calorie.

The energy represents the total amount of kilojoules from protein, fat, carbohydrates, including sugars, dietary fibre and alcohol that is released when food is used by the body.

If we eat too much energy, we do not become more energetic. Instead, the extra energy is converted into body fat and we gain weight. It is important to get our energy balance right, so that energy from food and beverages is the same as the energy burned up during the day through our activity, including keeping our bodies functioning.
 
Our energy needs are different from everyone else and change during our lifetime. They are based on age, life stage, gender, physical activity and other individual factors. For example, the reference amount for an average adult diet is based on 8700kJ, however daily energy requirements vary depending on personal needs.
Understanding sugar, fat and salt
The confectionery industry acknowledges there is public interest in foods containing high levels of sugar, fat and salt and that over consumption can impact people’s health and wellbeing.
 
Salt
Sodium is a component of salt. It affects health and high levels have been linked with high blood pressure and stroke, which is why it is included in the mandatory nutrition information panel (NIP). Sodium is also important for health – it regulates the water balance and controls muscle and nerve function.
 
Sodium may be added to food preparations for flavour and helps preserve foods and occurs naturally in foods. In confectionery, salt is generally present in insignificant quantities. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend choosing foods low in salt. For more information on sodium and salt click here.
 
Sugars
In Australia, most of the sugar comes from the sugar cane plant which is refined to sucrose or table sugar. Other sugars are glucose, galactose, fructose and lactose.
 
In addition to bringing sweetness, sugars provide many functions in food, such as helping provide taste, texture and colour, preserving, lowering the freezing point in frozen foods and fermentation.
 
All sugars are carbohydrates. Sugars are present naturally in a range of fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy foods and also as an ingredient in a range of processed foods and beverages, including confectionery.
 
From a digestive perspective, the human body is unable to distinguish between the sugars naturally present in foods and those added to manufactured foods and drinks as the body digests and uses the energy in the same way.
 
The amount of total sugars, naturally occurring and added, is indicated as a subset of carbohydrates in the mandatory NIP. By law sugars must also be declared in the ingredient list.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) also provides reference values for an average adult diet based on daily energy requirements of 8700 kJ. They use a reference value of 90 grams for total sugars.
 
Findings from the latest Australian nutrition survey (April 2016) indicates around 20% (105g) of our dietary energy comes from total sugars. This is about 25 teaspoons of sugar (there are approximately 4.2g of sugar per teaspoon).
 
In March 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the target of less than 10% total energy from ‘free sugars’. Free sugars are any sugars added by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus the sugars in honey, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates. This definition was developed by the WHO and is broader than ‘added sugars’ used in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
 
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)1, overall 52% of Australians usually exceed the WHO recommendation of less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars. However, average intake of free sugars is 10.9% of daily total energy – equivalent to 60g per day – and comparable to the WHO recommendation of less than 10%.
 
81% of free sugars in the average diet are contributed from discretionary foods. This finding aligns with the ABS2 (May 2014) findings which showed, on average, around 35% of our total energy intake comes from discretionary foods – foods that should be enjoyed sometimes and in moderation.
 
Sugars have been under scrutiny for a number of years. Sugars are not particularly fattening, however, when too much energy is consumed, from any source, including sugars, and left unbalanced with physical activity, this will lead to weight gain. Excess sugars leads to excess energy and it is the excess energy or over supply of food that is linked to overweight and obesity and associated diseases, rather than the sugar specifically.
 
Sugars can be part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle when they are consumed in moderation and within daily energy needs. The Australian confectionery industry supports the Australian Dietary Guidelines and Australian Guide to Healthy Eating that remind people that it is important to limit the consumption of foods and drinks with too much sugar, fat and salt and this includes confectionery (chocolate and sugar confectionery).
 

Fat
Fat is an essential part of our diet and important for good health. There are different types of fats, some are healthier than others. To help you stay healthy, it is important to eat unsaturated fats in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.
 
Fat is listed in the NIP as total fat and a separate entry must also be provided for saturated fat.
 
Eaten in excess, all fats can contribute to weight gain. A diet low in saturated and trans fats may help lower your risk of heart disease.
 
Trans fats have largely been removed from the Australian food supply and now contribute only very low levels to the diets of Australians, in fact, below the WHO recommendations of less than 1% of dietary energy. This is an example of food industry innovation and product reformulation to protect public health.
 
Being balanced is all about our food choices firstly and balancing food intake according to our individual needs which takes into account our activity levels. The principles outlined in the Australian Dietary Guidelines of balance, variety and enjoyment provide direction for the Australian population on how to select a healthy diet.
 
Be active
People of all ages benefit from regular physical activity.
 
Health authorities encourage everyone to be active each day and limit sedentary behaviour as being good for health. Being physically active is important for growth and development in younger people and for health and wellbeing as we become older citizens. Physical activity has other benefits too – from making you feel good to helping you relax.
 
The evidence reviewed for the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) suggests that a minimum of 45-60 minutes per day is required for both cardiovascular health and weight maintenance. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines include physical activity recommendations by life stage.
 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends children engage in 60 minutes a day of physical activity and for adults 150 minutes spread through the week3.
 
The easiest way to be physically active is to include a variety of age appropriate activities as part of your daily routine. This can include sport, a brisk walk, taking the dog for a walk, playing with the children, gardening or raking leaves, household tasks like cleaning windows, using the stairs instead of lifts when there is this option, meeting a friend and going for a walk or having a game of tennis or simply leaving the car behind when you go to the shops. The everyday, incidental activity counts too.
 
Regular physical activity or exercise as part of the everyday routine also helps you to use up the energy taken in from the food and beverage you consume and therefore reduce the risk of storing excess energy in the body as fat. The key is to find a healthy balance and to look for opportunities to move more whenever you can.
 
Did you know: you use about 300kJ an hour sitting down, 1550kJ an hour swimming, 1900kJ an hour going for a walk and 2000kJ an hour bike riding.
 
Keeping active is good for your body, mind and soul and feeling better means happier, healthier living.

References
  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Health Survey: Consumption of added sugars, 2011-12 / 4364.0.55.011
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4364.0.55.007 – Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12
  3. WHO Obesity and Overweight Fact Sheet, June 2016

Oral health and toothcare

Eating any food that contains starch or sugar can lead to tooth decay. The frequency at which carbohydrate containing foods and beverages are consumed is of more importance than the amount consumed, when it comes to oral health – it is about the type of food, like sticky foods or those that sit in our mouth for longer. It is also important to allow time between eating occasions so that saliva in our mouth can do its job by washing food away, counteracting the acid that causes tooth decay as well as its natural repair function.  Just as we should eat well to maintain a healthy body, we need to eat well to maintain a healthy mouth.

The on pack Be treatwise® logo on confectionery is a reminder that confectionery is an occasional treat food from a dietary balance and oral health perspective. There are many ways to keep teeth and gums healthy and strong, to maintain a healthy mouth and prevent cavities.  Here are some:

  • CHECK-UP : Visit your dentist for regular check-ups
  • BRUSH : Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste
  • FLOSS: Floss daily
  • CHEW : Chew sugarfree gum after eating and drinking when ‘on-the-go’
  • HEALTHY DIET : A balanced diet that is low in sugars is essential to maintaining healthy teeth – eat a wide variety of nutritious foods

 
When consuming any food or drink, we need to take care of our teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene is part of our overall health and wellbeing.

To learn more about the importance of good oral health the Australian Dental Association provides resources for parents, teachers and children on dental health information, tips and techniques on brushing and flossing and information on fluoridation.

The Sugar Research Advisory Service (SRAS) also provides some helpful materials on the role of sugar in dental health.

Advertising to children

Australia’s confectionery industry recognises the community’s concerns towards the advertising of discretionary foods such as lollies and chocolates to children. As such, Australia’s largest confectioners are signatories to the AFGC Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) – a proactive commitment not to primarily advertise to children under 12, unless the advertising is promoting healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to Australian children. The RCMI is underpinned by a rigorous and transparent compliance program with complaints administered by the Advertising Standards Bureau.

This commitment applies to television, print, radio as it does to the internet and cinema advertising and promotions.

In addition, the confectionery industry supports the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) codes and its commitment to clear standards when advertising its products to children. In particular the AANA Code of Ethics, the AANA Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children and the AANA Food and Beverages Advertising and Marketing Communications Code. The object of which is to ensure that advertisers develop and maintain a high sense of social responsibility in advertising to children in Australia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key inclusions in the updated Be treatwise® logo?

The Be treatwise® logo, together with its tagline ‘Enjoy a balanced diet’, ensures consumers can clearly understand serving size and be reminded of moderation in consumption. The Be treatwise® message helps them understand the role of treat, discretionary foods in a balanced diet and active lifestyle.  Be treatwise® works in conjunction with the Health Star Rating System, in particular, with the energy icon for confectionery which means energy in kilojoules is displayed with or without the optional percentage daily intake for energy on a per serve basis.  Additionally, serve sizes for confectionery range from 25g +/- 5g.  In conjunction with serve size, the industry is progressively, where possible, including an easy-to-understand quantity descriptor, ie ‘per row’ in a family block of chocolate, ‘per pack’, ‘per bar’ or ‘per x pieces’ in a share bag of sugar confectionery.

How many products does Be treatwise® feature on?

Be treatwise® is currently found on about 93% of major confectionery companies  participating brands on Australian supermarket shelves and this is expanding to encompass more, including SME products and /or other confectionery segments. (Source: Be treatwise® responsible consumption message industry audit, conducted by Ai Group, July 2015; non-participating categories include gifting, seasonal and gum).

Who can use Be treatwise®?

Be treatwise® is available under license in Australia to interested participants in the confectionery industry on application to the owner’s trustee, Confectionery BTW Pty Ltd. There is no fee or royalty for the Be treatwise® license, although licensees are bound by the terms and conditions of the license agreement.

Is Be treatwise® used in New Zealand?

Confectionery manufacturers in New Zealand may use the New Zealand Be treatwise® trade mark by registering with the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC) as the licence owner in New Zealand.  As Australia’s major trading partner, The Confectionery Trust and NZFGC have a reciprocal arrangement that permits licenced operators in Australia or New Zealand to trade in the other’s market.

Why isn’t Be treatwise® mandatory?

The strength of Be treatwise® is that it represents a voluntary and proactive commitment from members of Australia’s confectionery industry to address concerns about nutrition awareness and impact of over consumption on people’s health and wellbeing. With about 93% of major confectionery companies’ everyday confectionery products found on Australia’s supermarket shelves featuring Be treatwise® and increasing, the confectionery industry is confident in the ability of Be treatwise® to help influence consumer behaviour without the need to add regulation onto the confectionery industry (Source: Be treatwise® responsible consumption message industry audit, conducted by Ai Group, July 2015; non-participating categories include gifting, seasonal and gum).

Are some confectionery products exempt from featuring Be treatwise®?

Products that are less than 100cm2, or that are for gifting, seasonal or gum, are not generally expected to carry the Be treatwise® logo on pack.

Is there any evidence to prove Be treatwise® is affecting consumer behaviour?

Independent research has found 56% of the population interpret/understand the Be treatwise® message as “a food that can be eaten occasionally”.  A further 17% interpret/understand the Be treatwise® message as “a food that can be eaten rarely”. (Source:  Nielsen Australia research conducted from 22-27 April 2016, among 1503 surveyed Australians aged 18+)

What is the role of sugars is in confectionery?

Sugars, as carbohydrate, play an important role in different foods, including confectionery.  As a discretionary/ treat food, it is important to understand confectionery and chocolate contain sugars and fats, together with other nutrients.  As a treat food, that can be enjoyed sometimes and in small amounts, it is particularly important to understand energy, portion size and energy balance.  The confectionery industry is progressively bringing at-a-glance energy per serve information to front of confectionery packs, as the HSR System or DIG are implemented, together with the industry’s Be treatwise® message.  As well as bringing sweetness, sugars in confectionery provide texture, taste, bulk and contribute to shelf life. 

Recent confectionery consumption analysis shows that:

  • Confectionery contributes on average 2.2% (and between 1.6-3%) of Australians energy intake
  • On average Australians eat less than 200kJ a day of confectionery
  • Confectionery contributes 8.7% of free sugars intake in Australia – that’s on average equivalent to 1¼ teaspoons of sugar

(Source:  Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12 / 4364.0.55.007 and Consumption of added sugars, 2011-12 / 4364.0.55.011)

It comes down to energy in and energy out.  It is all about balance, moderation, variety in the diet and physical activity.

Want to know more?

For further information about energy, nutrition and the diet, health and wellbeing, oral health care, food regulations and other information, please refer to the websites below:

Health Star Rating System  – is the government led front of pack labelling system designed to help consumers make healthier food purchased and food choices at-a-glance
New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries – for information on the government led Health Star Rating System in New Zealand
www.eatforhealth.gov.au
Sugar Research Advisory Service
www.8700.com.au – to find your ideal energy requirements
www.allaboutsugars.com
AFGC Daily Intake Guide Style Guide
My Daily Intake – explains the Daily Intake Guide
Food Standards Australia New Zealand – for information on nutrition information panels, food regulations – Australian site
Food Standards Australia New Zealand –for information on nutrition information panels, food regulations – New Zealand site
National Health & Medical Research Council
A Healthy and Active Australia
The Federal Department of Health
Victorian Government Better Health Channel
NSW Government Make Healthy Normal
Australian Dental Association
The Wrigley Company Extra Oral Health Care Program
Sports Dietitians
Dietitians Association of Australia
Nutrition Australia
Exercise and Sports Science Australia
Australian Sports Commission / Australian Institute of Sport