The NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced this week that as part of the latest stage of the State Government's 8700kJ Campaign, intended to provide consumers with more information about what they eat, NSW supermarkets are now introducing labels which display the average kilojoule content of all ready-to-eat food items.

Fast food chains with 20 or more outlets in NSW or at 50 or more locations throughout Australia have been required to display the kilojoule content of all items on their menus since February 2012.

Who must comply?

All supermarkets in premises with floor area of 1000 square metres or more that sell standard food items at 20 or more locations in NSW or at 50 or more locations throughout Australia.

What are standard food items?

Standard food items include all ready-to-eat food i.e., food that is in a state in which it is ordinarily consumed. While there are no specific examples provided in the legislation, it is likely to include such items as BBQ chickens, meat pies, prepared salads, some cakes and bakery items.

Legislation however specifically excludes nuts in shells, raw fruit and vegetables. It also does not apply to items sold in packages that already contain a Nutritional Information Panel in accordance with the Australian Food Standards Code.

What information must supermarkets display?

The kilojoule content must be displayed alongside a 'kJ' wherever the name or price of the item is displayed. The kilojoule content must be clearly legible and displayed in the same font as the price.

The mandatory statement 'The average adult daily energy intake is 8700kJ' must also appear. The mandatory statement must be the same size as the largest font size on tags or labels for the item.

How can supermarkets determine how many kilojoules are in each food item?

The method of determining the kilojoule content is to calculate the average energy content of the whole of the standard food, or per 100grams, in accordance with Standard 1.2.8 of the Australian Food Standards Code.

What businesses are exempt from the requirement?

Convenience stores, service stations, catering service companies, and food businesses that only sell food that is intended to be consumed on premises in which it is sold are exempt from the kilojoule labelling requirement, as are supermarkets with less than 1000 square metres of floor area and supermarkets with less than 20 locations in NSW (or less than 50 locations throughout Australia).

What are the penalties for contravention?

Supermarkets can face penalties of up to $55,000 for contraventions of the Food Act 2003 (NSW).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.