Food Industry

Product registration program closure

The FOCIS Product registration program (PRP) has been assisting food industry and school canteens in the provision of healthy choices since 1998. The initial program was developed in response to demand from schools for an easy reference list of suitable food and drink products.

Since this time, State and Territory government departments have implemented healthy eating policies or guidelines; Canteen Associations and Networks have developed their own product registration programs and/or lists based on these policies or guidelines; and in 2010, the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines were developed and currently used in a selection of jurisdictions.

This means there are different standards used across Australia. With the exception of New South Wales, all jurisdictions continue to use a Traffic light system. FOCIS recognises that this has resulted in a level of confusion for many food manufacturers, distributors and canteen operators. In 2020, FOCIS undertook a comprehensive review of the PRP to ensure that we were still providing the best possible service to both food industry and schools. For detail about this survey see the Advice of closure document.

At the recent FOCIS Annual General Meeting it was determined that as of the 31 December 2020 the FOCIS PRP will cease to operate.  While FOCIS will continue to support school canteens and food industry we will be dedicating more time to increasing our advocacy role.

FOCIS encourages food industry representatives to contact other organisations who operate PRPs in various States and Territories to ensure your products are eligible for distribution, investigate promotional opportunities and for further support. We believe that these organisations are best placed to service the needs of the food industry by offering PRP’s moving forward.

Food in schools

There is significant evidence that in Australia the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased, with an estimated 27% of children and adolescence now overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity in childhood is linked with chronic health problems and children who are obese are more likely to maintain their obesity into adulthood. Identified population strategies for the management and prevention of childhood obesity, such as improving eating patterns and decreasing the consumption of energy dense nutrient poor foods, have been taken into consideration with policies developed in each state and territory.

FOCIS encourages school canteens to stock a wide variety of tasty nutritious foods and beverages that contribute to children’s growth and development. Children should be encouraged to eat 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet and this should be a key component of the school canteen menu. Focis recognises that food and drinks can be categorised by using a traffic light system.

The traffic light system enables the practical identification of food and drinks suitable for school canteens. See the Traffic light system fact sheet.

GREEN: contain a wide range of nutrients; generally low in fat/sugar/sodium (salt). These foods and drinks correspond to core food groups in the Australian Guide to Health Eating.

AMBER: contain some valuable nutrients; may also contain higher levels of fat/sugar/sodium (salt); over-consumption could contribute to excess energy intake.

RED: low in nutritional value; often contain excess energy (kilojoules)/fat/sugar/sodium (salt); often discretionary foods.