Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide

Health services Food industry

The Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide categorises foods and drinks into three categories according to their nutritional value.

Healthy choices food and drink classification guide front cover

The classification guide

  • Identifies GREEN, AMBER and RED foods and drinks according to the traffic light system
  • Helps you understand the processes used to classify foods and drinks as GREEN, AMBER or RED
  • Helps hospitals and health services in Victoria to apply Healthy Choices across on-site food and drink retail outlets, vending machines and catering
  • Provides a comprehensive, quick reference example guide


FoodChecker is our free online tool to identify GREEN, AMBER and RED food and drinks according to the Healthy choices classification guide. Save time by entering your food and drink items to get an instant report. 

Visit FoodChecker

Where to use the classification guide

The Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide can be used across health services wherever foods and/or drinks are sold or provided to staff, volunteers, visitors and customers. This can include:

  • food and drink retail outlets such as cafeterias, cafes, coffee shops, kiosks (including mobile food kiosks and auxiliary outlets) and coffee carts
  • other on-site retail outlets that mainly sell foods and drinks (such as convenience stores)
  • patient or resident menus that staff or visitors can purchase from
  • food and/or drink vending machines
  • catering provided by the health service for meetings, functions and events (such as workshops, conferences, community events, launches, celebrations and ceremonies) and client or community education or training programs
  • catering provided by the health service for an external user group
  • fundraising activities
  • rewards, incentives, gifts, prizes and give-aways
  • advertising and promotion

The guidelines apply to all foods and drinks, whether freshly made on the premises or supplied prepackaged.

The classification guide is not designed for:

  • treatment of specific diseases or medical conditions requiring dietary intervention
  • foods and drinks that are not recommended for consumption by the general population and are for special purposes only, for example some formulated supplementary foods and drinks (such as formulated supplementary sports drinks, protein drinks, formulated meal replacements)
  • meals and snacks for inpatients or aged care residents and Meals on Wheels
  • foods and drinks that staff and visitors purchase from outside the health service or bring from home for personal use.

Who is the classification guide for?

  • health promotion officers
  • food-service staff
  • employers
  • contract or procurement managers
  • food and drink manufacturers and suppliers
  • caterers

How to use the classification guide

The Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide should be used together with the Healthy choices: policy guidelines for hospitals and health services.

You can use FoodChecker to assess items online according the classification guide


Find out more details and how to implement the traffic light system here

Written and reviewed by dietitians and nutritionists at Nutrition Australia, with support from the Victorian Government.

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Unsure what guidelines apply to you?

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