Healthy Choices guidelines

The Victorian Government has developed the Healthy Choices guidelines to help make sure that healthy foods and drinks are offered and promoted in places like hospitals, health services, sport and recreation centres, parks and workplaces.

The following Healthy Choices resources are available:

 

Food and drinks classification guide

The Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide * uses a traffic light system to classify foods and drinks as GREEN (best choices), AMBER (choose carefully) or RED (limit).

The guide describes foods and drinks in each category and explains how to decide which category a food or drink fits into.

Read more about the traffic light classification system, and what each category means. 

* See also: Additional criteria at the bottom of this page.

 

Guide to counting foods and drinks in menu assessments

Use this guide to understand how to count food and drink items when doing a retail outlet menu assessment in FoodChecker.

This will ensure the percentages of GREEN, AMBER or RED food and drinks are calculated accurately according to the Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices guidelines.

 

Policy guidelines

There are different policy documents to help you apply the Healthy Choices guidelines in hospitals and health services, workplaces, sport and recreation centres*, and parks.

You can download them from https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/preventive-health/nutrition/healthy-choices-for-retail-outlets-vending-machines-catering

The policy documents discuss important issues such as:

  • providing healthy foods and drinks in retail outlets, vending machines and catering
  • the importance of organisational policy and contracts about healthy foods and drinks
  • food and drink advertising, promotion and display
  • using foods and drinks for fundraising, prizes and give-aways
  • sponsorship by food industry.

 

Online information

This website provides information and advice about putting Healthy Choices into practice, classifying foods and drinks, planning a healthy menu and recipes and food ideas.

Visit the workplaces, hospitals and health services, sport & recreation centres and parks, and universities, TAFEs and colleges sections of this website for practical advice about how to implement the Healthy Choices guidelines in your organisation.

 

Additional nutrient criteria

The criteria below should be used in addition to the existing criteria in the Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide.

These additions have also been applied to FoodChecker, so you can assess your foods and drinks according to the most up to date criteria for Healthy Choices.
 

Updated criteria

Category Current criteria
(in Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide)
Updated/additional criteria
Food

 

 
Breakfast cereals not containing dried fruit

‘Breakfast cereals not containing dried fruit’ nutrient criteria (determine GREEN or AMBER), page 18.

Breakfast cereals not containing dried fruit are RED if they contain more than 25g of sugar per 100g.

Breakfast cereals containing dried fruit

‘Breakfast cereals containing dried fruit’ nutrient criteria (to determine GREEN or AMBER), page 18.

Breakfast cereals containing dried fruit are RED if they contain more than 30g of sugar per 100g.
Popcorn

‘Savoury snack foods, biscuits, crispbreads and crisps criteria’ (determines AMBER or RED), page 20.

Popcorn products containing at least 80% corn can be AMBER if the energy per 100g is less than 2000kJ (rather than 1800kJ).

Wholegrain or multigrain crackers ‘Savoury snack foods, biscuits, crispbreads and crisps criteria’ (determines AMBER or RED), page 20. Wholegrain or multigrain crackers are GREEN if they meet the ‘Savoury snack foods, biscuits, crispbreads and crisps’ criteria AND have at least 2g of fibre per serve.
Tuna and cracker packs ‘Tuna and cracker snacks’ criteria (determines GREEN or AMBER), page 37.

If the tuna is in spring water, and the crackers are wholegrain or multigrain, the product is classified as GREEN.

 

If the tuna is not in spring water and/or the crackers are not wholegrain or multigrain crackers, the product is classified as AMBER.

Drinks    
Flavoured milk

‘Flavoured milk’ criteria (determines GREEN, AMBER or RED), page 34.

 

Flavoured milk was considered ‘reduced fat’ if the product was labelled as low/reduced fat, or if low fat milk was listed in the ingredients.

Flavoured milk is now considered reduced fat if it contains less than or equal to 2g of total fat per 100g.

 

New criteria

Category Criteria
Food  
Coconut chips All coconut chips are classified as RED, regardless of whether they are dried, roasted or toasted.
Trail mixes Trail mixes are classified using the ‘mixed meal criteria’ (see 25 of the classification guide)
Seaweed snacks

Plain seaweed products, with no added ingredients (i.e salt, sugar, fat are classified as GREEN like plain dried vegetables (see page 47 of the classification guide).

 

Flavoured seaweed snacks with added fat, sugar or salt are classified as AMBER or RED using the ‘Savoury snack foods, biscuits, crispbreads and crisps criteria’ (page 20).

Drinks  
Kombucha

Kombucha is classified as AMBER if it has less than 1g of sugar per 100mL and the alcohol content is equal to or less than 0.5%.

 

Kombucha is classified as RED if it contains 1g or more of sugar per 100mL and/or if alcohol content is greater than 0.5%.

Coconut water

Coconut water is classified as AMBER if it is 100% coconut water, contains no added sugar and contains less than 300kJ per serve.

 

Coconut water that contains 99% fruit juice is also classified as AMBER as long as it has less than 300kJ per serve and contains no added sugar.

Canned/bottled coffee (water-based)

Canned or bottled coffee (not milk-based) is classified:

  • GREEN if it has 0g of sugar per serve
  • AMBER if it has 0.1g – 5g of sugar per serve
  • RED if it has more than 5g of sugar per serve.

 

Note: Milk-based canned and bottled coffee drinks are classified as a ‘flavoured milk’ (page 34 of the classification guide).

Diluted fruit juice

 

Water flavoured with fruit juice

Drinks made from a combination of water and juice can be AMBER if the juice is at least 99% fruit juice and is diluted with water only, and if the amount of juice used is 250ml or less.

 

(Fruit juice is still classified as AMBER if it meets all the above criteria and is artificially sweetened.)

 

Fruit juice and water beverages are classified as RED if it contains any added sugar, and/or if the ‘juice’ is not a 99% juice and/or if the amount of juice used is greater than 250mL.

 

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