Healthy Choices frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the interpretation and implementation of the Healthy Choices guidelines.
What are the Healthy Choices guidelines?
The Victorian Government has developed the Healthy Choices guidelines to support the provision and promotion of healthy foods and drinks in places like hospitals and health services, workplaces, universities and sports and recreation facilities. The guidelines aim to promote healthy foods and drinks in retail outlets, vending machines and catering. They use a traffic light system to classify foods and drinks as GREEN (best choices), AMBER (choose carefully) or RED (limit).
The guidelines recommend that retail outlets and vending machines provide at least 50% GREEN items and less than 20% RED options. The guidelines also recommend that catering provided to staff in an organisation should only be GREEN or AMBER foods and drinks.
For more information on the targets refer to the Healthy Choices guidelines overview.
NB: if you’re a public health service refer to the Healthy choices: policy directive for Victorian public health services for information on relevant requirements and targets for GREEN, AMBER and RED foods and drinks.
Why implement Healthy Choices guidelines?
Your organisation can make a big difference when it comes to healthy eating!
Whether you are a smaller organisation providing catering at meetings and events, or a larger organisation with vending machines or even a retail outlet, you can help staff and visitors to be healthier and happier.
By offering foods and drinks that follow the Healthy Choices guidelines, you can help improve wellbeing for your staff and visitors and promote your organisation as a healthy eating leader in your industry.
The following are some reasons to implement the Healthy Choices guidelines in your organisation:
For sport and recreation centres
Healthy eating is just as important as physical activity in creating a healthy lifestyle.
Supplying healthier foods and drinks in food outlets, vending machines and catering in your sport and recreation centre provides a consistent message about healthy lifestyles to the children and adults that visit your centre.
It can also attract more visitors by creating a family-friendly environment and have the potential to increase revenue due to health conscious visitors purchasing healthier choices.
For all workplaces
Healthy employees are productive employees, and the foods and drinks that your staff consume each day affect their energy levels, mood and concentration, not to mention their long term health.
Supplying healthier foods and drinks through catering, vending machines and on site food outlets will ensure your staff and visitors have access to nutritious options that support optimal performance and overall health.
It can also contribute to:
- staff being more productive and satisfied in their work
- less stress and anxiety in the workplace
- staff having fewer ‘absent’ or sick days.
What support is available to assist me to implement the guidelines?
The Healthy Eating Advisory Service is a government funded service delivered by Nutrition Australia Vic Division that supports organisations to provide and promote healthier foods and drinks through catering, retail food outlets and vending.
We can support you through the following free services: (Link the following to the relevant pages)
- Informative resources – Practical information including recipes, food and drink ideas, case studies and how-to-guides
- Instant food and drink assessments – Access our Australian-first online menu assessment tool, FoodChecker
- Online training – Training modules to support you in providing and promoting healthier food and drinks
- Infoline and email advice – Speak to our dedicated nutritionists and dietitians
Or contact us for more information about how we can help you.
Where can I start? What’s the first thing I should do?
We have developed a Getting Started guide to assist you in identifying the best place to start. Access the guide: insert link to Healthy Choices Getting Started Guide
How do I get leadership and management on board?
Getting your organisation’s management on board with Healthy Choices is important as they can help to lead and advocate for healthy eating and make changes at a policy level. Without management support it can be difficult to create sustained change. Some ideas to ensure your leadership team is supportive are:
- Complete our online module, ‘Getting management on board’ to learn about putting together a business case to gain support from your management team.
- Undertake a brief baseline assessment of some or all of your retail, vending and catering facilities and compare these to the Healthy Choices guidelines – even just the drink display. This data can be presented to your executive to show how you compare to other organisations. Our counting guide can help you understand how to count food and drink items when doing a retail outlet menu assessment.
- Refer to the work done by Alfred Health. Their online case study shows how they removed sugar sweetened beverages (classified RED) from view yet their sales remained steady, and the purchasing of GREEN and AMBER drinks increased. Their infographic can be particularly helpful.
- Refer to the Healthy Eating Advisory Service website for more case studies.
What if I have existing contracts with vending suppliers?
It is important to know where the contract stands with your vending suppliers.
If a contract is up for renewal or tender, consider including a clause around requiring suppliers to provide vending machines that meet the Healthy Choices guidelines. If up for tender, look at influencing the tender deliverables by working with your procurement department. Go to the Organisational Policy page for some service agreement templates and examples to use.
If you have existing contracts with vending suppliers, ask them if they have healthier options they could provide. Suppliers are always keen for the next contract and so will try to meet your needs with regards to healthy foods as best they can.
Many vending suppliers are receiving such requests, and if the demand is increasing then more vending suppliers will see the benefit in introducing healthier foods and drinks.
How do I source healthier foods and drinks?
How can I promote to my staff and the public that we are working towards the Healthy Choices guidelines?
There are many ways to promote the excellent work you’re doing by working towards the Healthy Choices guidelines.
- Give staff an opportunity to be involved in the change. They may be able to lead some elements through the Staff Health and Wellbeing Committee
- Use your organisation’s social media platforms to make announcements and provide updates.
- Write an article or a news alert explaining what you’re doing. You could also include it in the staff daily bulletin where relevant.
How does the Health Star Rating relate to the Victorian government’s Healthy Choices guidelines?
The Health Star Rating is a federal government supported labelling system on packaged food and drinks to help consumers choose healthier versions of similar packaged products. For example, to compare one breakfast cereal with another, or one muesli bar with another.
The Health Star Rating does not replace the Victorian government traffic light system used in the Healthy Choices guidelines. The Healthy Choices guidelines are a broader resource that take into account not only packaged products, but all five core food groups, fresh foods, portion sizes, and display and promotion.
Except where otherwise indicated, the images in this document show models and illustrative settings only, and do not necessarily depict actual services, facilities or recipients of services. This document may contain images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In this document, ‘Aboriginal’ refers to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. ‘Indigenous’ or ‘Koori/Koorie’ is retained when part of the title of a report, program or quotation. Copyright © State of Victoria 2016
Written and reviewed by dietitians and nutritionists at Nutrition Australia, with support from the Victorian Government.
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