NSW Farmers says it is alarmed by the decision to downgrade the Health Star Rating of 100% fruit and vegetable juice, ranking it lower than some soda beverages.
The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation has endorsed a rating system that will halve the Health Star Rating (HSR) of freshly squeezed orange juice to 2.5 stars, while giving diet cola 3.5 stars.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the decision is crushing for fruit and vegetable growers.
“It’s harmful and nonsensical to send a message that fresh, unsweetened fruit and vegetable juice is somehow worse for you than a synthetic drink like diet cola,” Mr Jackson said.
“Pure fruit and vegetable juices are a great source of vitamin C and folate, and are full of fibre. They’re part of a well-balanced diet.”
“Up to 94% of Australians do not eat the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables each day. Consuming juice is one way of reaching the recommended amount and harnessing essential vitamins and minerals.”
Mr Jackson reiterated the unnecessary stress this could place on fresh food farmers.
“Many farming businesses in the horticulture industry have only just entered recovery after years of prolonged drought. Others are still putting the pieces back together after the bushfires.”
“COVID-19 has been an obvious challenge for our growers . A shortage of seasonal workers has meant some crops have been dumped, which is devastating for farmers who are finally facing favourable seasonal conditions.”
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has hosted the first online forum with industry and federal and state governments to review the progress