RED (Limit)

This following information is an extract from Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide (PDF).


The Healthy Choices guidelines classify foods and drinks as GREEN, AMBER or RED based on their nutritional value.

Foods and drinks in the RED (limit) category are based on ‘discretionary choices’ in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. These items are not essential in a balanced diet and can contribute to excess energy intake, overweight and obesity and chronic disease if consumed frequently or in large amounts. In general RED choices are:

  • high in energy (kilojoules)
  • high in saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt
  • lacking in important nutrients such as fibre.

Sugar-sweetened drinks, deep-fried foods and confectionery are examples of RED choices.

Alcohol is also included in the RED category. For information about the responsible service of alcohol visit the Victorian Commission of Gaming and Liquor Regulation website at

The RED category also contains foods and drinks that are not recommended for consumption by the general population as part of a normal diet and are for special purposes only. This includes high protein drinks and formulated supplementary sports drinks.


RED foods and drinks


Foods and drinks in the RED category

Below is a summary of foods and drinks in the RED category. For more RED choices refer to the 'Common foods and drinks classification guide' (Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide, page 28).



All types including lollies (boiled, soft), jelly, juice jellies, jelly beans, licorice, marshmallow, regular mints, bubble gum, carob, chocolate, chocolate spreads (such as chocolate and hazelnut spread), hundreds and thousands, sprinkles, syrups, chocolate coating, carob coating, yoghurtflavoured coating.


Saturated and trans fats, and oils

  • Butter, dairy-blend spreads
  • Lard, tallow, copha, ghee, cooking margarine
  • Cream
  • Palm oil, cottonseed oil
  • Coconut oil, coconut cream, regular coconut milk

Fried foods

  • Foods fried in large amounts of oil (such as schnitzel)
  • Deep-fried foods

Frozen ice confection

  • Sugar-sweetened ice blocks, ice crushes (slushies, Slurpees™), fruit or water-based gelato and sorbet


  • Sugar-sweetened drinks such as soft drinks, flavoured waters, flavoured mineral waters, flavoured teas, fruit drinks (less than 99 per cent fruit juice), cordials, sports waters, sports drinks, energy drinks*, ice crushes (Slurpees™, slushies). Sugar-sweetened drinks should be provided in the smallest serve size available (e.g. 200-375 ml cans)
  • Artificially sweetened energy drinks in serve sizes over 250 ml
  • Flavoured milk and flavoured milk alternatives that are more than 1,600 kJ per serve as sold
  • Alcoholic drinks (for example, beer, liqueurs, port, sherry, spirits, wines, mixed alcoholic drinks)
  • High protein drinks and protein shakes over 300 ml

* All products containing caffeine (for example, energy drinks) must comply with FSANZ Food Standards Code 2.6.4.


Single hot-food items, ready to eat meals, and snack foods

Items that do not meet the AMBER nutrient criteria (Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide, pages 19–20).This includes many:

  • savoury pastries such as pies, sausage rolls and pasties
  • crumbed and coated meat products such as schnitzels
  • sausages, frankfurts, saveloys and chorizo
  • processed meats such as Devon, Strasburg, salami, kabana and bacon
  • savoury snack foods, biscuits and crisps
  • cakes, slices and sweet pastries
  • sweet snack foods, bars and biscuits
  • ice-creams, milk or soy-based ice confections and dairy desserts.

RED foods and drinksSweet spreads and toppings

  • jam
  • chocolate spreads
  • syrups
  • condensed milk
  • honey
  • sugar
  • sprinkles


Guidelines for the RED category

Limit availability of RED foods and drinks

This includes limiting:

  • the range of RED choices offered
  • the supply of RED choices in all situations.

If RED choices are provided, offer the smallest portion available. Jumbo sizes of RED foods and drinks should be avoided.

In some instances (for example, workplace catering) RED items must be avoided completely. Refer to the setting-specific Healthy Choices policy documents for more information.


Avoid promoting or encouraging RED foods and drinks

This includes:

  • promotional materials on counters, cabinets, fridges, vending machines, menu boards, staff notice boards, in lifts and via promotional stands and product displays
  • meal or point of sale promotions which include RED choices, for example meal deals, two for one deals, upsizing and supersizing.
Limit the display of RED foods and drinks

RED choices should not be displayed in excessive quantities or in prominent areas including:

  • at eye level in cabinets, fridges, refrigerated cabinets, bain maries, vending machines or on shelves
  • on reception desks or counters in waiting areas, at entrances and exits of food outlets, beside cash registers and in dining areas.

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