MEMBER for Murray Plains Peter Walsh says farmers in his electorate have been incensed by the latest release of health star ratings which make diet soft drinks healthier than natural fruit juice.
Mr Walsh is demanding Health Minister Martin Foley step in and act immediately.
“What sort of message are we sending our children when cans of diet soft drink are given a higher health star rating than natural fruit juice?” he said.
“Because that’s what happening right now – and it is wrong.”
Mr Walsh has now taken the fight to Parliament and this week spoke out against ratings he could only describe as “perverse”.
“I raised the concerns of farmers in my electorate with the changes the forum on food regulation are making to the health star ratings for vegetable and fruit juice,” Mr Walsh said.
“At present fruit juices average 4.9 stars, but with the new health star ratings most juices will fall to a rating of between 2 and 3.3 stars,” he said.
“By contrast, diet soft drinks will increase their rating from 2 to 3.5 stars, higher than the health star rating for 100 per cent fruit or vegetable juice that has no added sugar.
“This is sending all the wrong messages when it comes to promoting a healthy diet – soft drink rated higher than fruit juice.
“It has juice manufacturers who buy fruit and vegetables from farmers in my electorate questioning the value of even being involved in the health star rating system when it delivers such a perverse star rating as diet soft drinks being healthier than fruit juice.”
Mr Walsh then called on the Health Minister to “take these concerns to the forum on food regulation and have this crazy situation corrected”.
“The farmers in my electorate and the fruit juice manufacturers in my electorate just believe that it is plain wrong that you have a higher star rating for diet soft drinks than you do for 100 per cent pure fruit juice.”