Healthy choices: policy directive food & drink targets

Health services Food industry
person using a laptop and another person holding a booklet in front of shelves of drinks

Health services have a key leadership role in providing healthier food and drink options to support the health and wellbeing of their staff and visitors.

The Victorian Government has introduced the ‘Healthy choices: policy directive for Victorian public health services’ (the Policy directive) with new targets for the sale and supply of foods and drinks (including the removal of sugary drinks).

The decision to remove sugary drinks from Victorian public health services is based on a large body of evidence of the benefits including:

DrinksFood
Vending and in-house^ retail food outlets:

No RED drinks to be available or promoted/advertised

At least 50% GREEN drinks, and no more than 20% drinks containing artificial or intense sweeteners (classified AMBER) to be available
In-house managed retail outlets^ and patient/resident menus:

At least 50% GREEN foods and no more than 20% RED foods are available. No RED foods to be promoted/advertised.
Food only vending machines:

At least 50% GREEN foods and no more than 20% RED foods are available
Combination food and drink vending machines:

at least 50% GREEN items (combination of foods and drinks)
no more than 20% AMBER artificially sweetened drinks and
no more than 20% RED foods are available (no RED drinks allowed).
no RED foods to be promoted/advertised
CateringCatering
No RED drinks to be provided (with majority of options to be GREEN)No RED foods to be provided (with majority of options to be GREEN)

^You may choose to assess externally managed retail food outlets against the Policy directive. While such assessments are encouraged (which will help you meet the Cancer Plan 2020-24 target), reporting on externally operated outlets is optional.

View video transcript

[Text displayed on screen] Healthy choices: Policy directive – Understanding the drinks targets  

In 2021, the Victorian Government announced a healthy choices policy directive for Victorian Public Health Services.  

The purpose of the policy is to ensure that all Victorian Public Health Services sell, provide and promote healthier food and drinks through their in-house retail food outlets, all vending machines and catering, as well as items purchased by staff via patient or resident menus.  

[Text displayed on screen] Brigitte Annois, Nutrition Policy Advisory, Healthy Eating Advisory Services.  

[Brigitte Annois, Nutrition Policy Advisory, Healthy Eating Advisory Services] I’m Brigitte, a nutrition policy advisor from the Healthy Eating Advisory Service. Supported by the Victorian Government, our role is to help ensure your organisation meets the policy.  

In this video, I’m going to walk you through the requirements for drinks, which is the first policy target to be met by September 30, 2022. T 

he requirements for drinks set out in the policy require that no high sugar or red drinks are to be available or promoted.  

Green drinks must be at least 50% of the total proportion of drinks available or displayed. Part officially sweetened drinks, classified amber, must be no more than 20% of the total proportion of drinks available or displayed.  

This excludes milk-based drinks. refer to products with added sugar and include all non-alcoholic water-based drinks.  

Examples of these include soft drinks and energy drinks, fruit drinks or fruit juice with added sugar, sports drinks and waters and flavoured waters and mineral waters.  

A full list of drinks is available on the Healthy Eating Advisory Service website.  

Drinks which can be sold are those classified as green and amber, including water, milk or alternatives, small serves of juice with at least 99% fruit and no added sugar, and artificially sweetened drinks. with no added sugar.  

In addition, all health services are encouraged to have free drinking water readily available.  

Artificially or intensely sweetened drinks, including diet and no sugar drinks, have less or no sugar.  

However, some drinks advertised as such may still include added sugar.  

Only those with no added sugar are classified as amber.  

The Healthy Eating Advisory Services’ free online tool FoodChecker, can assist you in understanding how the drinks on your menus and in your vending machines are classified, including which artificially sweetened.  

FoodChecker provides you with a green, amber or red classification and wear relevant information on healthier options. Health Services will be required to meet the drinks targets by September 30, 2022. Health Services will be required to use FoodChecker to conduct their drinks assessment.  

This report will then be submitted to the Department of Health. The Healthy Eating Advisory Service can support you with this.  

Our team of dietitians have already helped over 180 hospitals and community health services.  

Our support services include 1 to 1 coaching, assistance with FoodChecker and helping with assessing and planning your food services.  

Health services are congratulated on the significant progress they have made and continue to make towards a policy.  

Together, we have an opportunity to support the health and wellbeing of all who access your health service by ensuring healthier food and drink options are available. Contact us for dedicated support.  

We’re ready with expert dietitians to help your health service meet the policy requirements. 

[Text displayed on screen] For more information, support and resources, visit heas.health.vic.gov.au    

Who does the Policy apply to?

The Policy directive applies to all sites and facilities across public health services including, but not limited to:

  • hospitals
  • public sector residential aged care services (PSRACS)
  • integrated community health services

The Policy directive applies to the following food services within public health services:

  • in-house managed retail food outlets, including items purchased by staff and visitors from patient/resident menus
  • all vending machines (managed in-house and privately
  • all catering* provided to visitors and staff

* Catering applies to staff procuring food and drinks with health service (government funds) for meetings, functions, and events. This includes occasions such as workshops, conferences, community events, launches, celebrations and ceremonies, as well as client or community education, information, or training programs. It also includes food/drinks provided (free) on the ward or in staff rooms/waiting rooms for staff/visitors (e.g. tea/coffee, water, fruit, biscuits, lollies). Whilst not included in the Policy directive, health services are encouraged to promote and communicate their healthy catering policy to any external groups using their facilities, for example community support groups.

Getting ready to report

In 2023 health services will be reporting on both food and drinks. Health services will submit the following to the Progress Tracker reporting tool:

  • FoodChecker assessment report/s for their food provision (in-house managed retail outlets and vending)
  • An update for their 2022 FoodChecker assessment report/s reflecting their drinks provision (in-house managed food outlets and vending machines)

Note – View table presentation in PDF for reference

FOOD
NowFrom 1 September 2023
Start using FoodChecker to assess your food provision and make the recommended changes to align with the Policy directive.

Complete an assessment/s for each internally managed retail food outlet, items purchased by staff and visitors from patient/resident menus and each vending machine layout.

TIP: remember to use the Policy directive assessment function in FoodChecker.
Nominate the relevant FoodChecker assessment/s to the Progress Tracker reporting tool and complete the accompanying questions.
DRINKS
NowFrom 1 September 2023
Continue using FoodChecker to assess your drink provision.

Update your 2022 FoodChecker assessments with any changes to drinks provision for your in-house retail food outlets and/or vending machines.

Conduct new FoodChecker assessments for any new drink offerings in vending or in-house retail food outlets.

TIP: remember to use the Policy directive assessment function in FoodChecker.
Add updated relevant FoodChecker assessment/s to the Progress Tracker reporting tool and complete accompanying questions

FoodChecker - conducting your assessments

Click here to access FoodChecker

Assessing drinks in FoodChecker

Health services will continue to use the dedicated Policy directive assessment function in FoodChecker to assess foods and drinks against the Policy directive targets.

The new FoodChecker Policy directive assessment function allows you to assess your internally managed retail food outlets, vending machines and catering against the Policy directive targets.

The assessment will state if you meet each of the following targets individually:

  • Drinks % targets
  • Food % targets
  • No RED drinks promotion
  • No RED food promotion

For all assessments:

  • Ensure FoodChecker assessments have been completed within the last six months
  • Only the FoodChecker assessment you choose to submit is visible to the Department of Health
  • Previous assessments conducted using the FoodChecker Policy directive assessment function will be able to be copied and edited (changes can be made if required) and then submitted.
  • If your assessment was previously conducted in the FoodChecker Healthy Choices assessment function it will need to be redone in the FoodChecker Policy directive flow.
  • You can do as many assessments as you want, at any time. Complete at least one assessment for each in-house managed retail food service and one assessment per vending machine layout
Hands holding a notepad and red pen

In-house retail or patient/resident menus available to staff or visitors:

  • Each of your in-house managed retail outlets and patient/resident menus available to staff or visitors needs to be assessed in FoodChecker (using the Policy directive flow).
  • Your assessment should include all items available for lunch and snacks throughout the day.
  • Breakfast and dinner do not need to be submitted for Policy directive reporting. However, you should still ensure any breakfast and dinner food/drink provision is in accordance with the Policy directive.
Use this approach if your retail outlet or patient/resident menu offers 10 or fewer items over lunch and snacks:Use this approach if your retail outlet or patient/resident menu offers more than 10 items over lunch and snacks:
Assess five days of your menu in FoodChecker.

All five days of your menu assessment should be done in the one FoodChecker assessment.

If you have items that appear every day on your menu, enter those items into FoodChecker once for every day they are provided. For example, if you have cheese and crackers on the menu every day, enter this item into the assessment five times.
Assess three days of your menu in FoodChecker.

Each day of your menu assessment should be done in a separate FoodChecker assessment. E.g. you will submit three separate FoodChecker assessments for your Policy directive reporting.

If you have similar items available every day, complete one day menu assessment and use the ‘copy and edit’ function to copy that assessment, rename it to day two, and make the changes so the menu reflects day two. Tip: this will save time if you offer the same snacks every day, and only change your hot meal options.

Assessing externally managed retail outlets:

Whilst optional, you are strongly encouraged to assess food and drinks provision in your commercially managed retail outlets against the Policy directive and submit this as part of 2023 Department of Health reporting. This will help achieve and monitor progress towards the Victorian Cancer Plan 2020-24 target [1].

Assessing food only and combination vending machines

  • You only need one assessment per vending machine layout. (i.e., if you have three vending machines with identical layouts [when fully stocked] you only need one assessment for that layout, not three different assessments).
  • Assess vending machines when they are fully stocked. Do not assess the planogram provided by your supplier as it can be different to what is actually in the machine.
  • You can search and assess drinks to find out if they contain artificial sweetener.
  • You need to include both foods and drinks in combination machine assessments. You can add food to your previous drinks FoodChecker assessments for combination machines.

Assessing catering:

You should assess staff and event catering in order to plan and implement your healthy catering policy, BUT you will not need to submit catering assessments in the 2022 report. Questions will be asked about your organisation’s healthy catering policy/processes.

Reporting to the Department of Health

Progress Tracker, the online reporting tool where each health service reports their progress towards meeting the Policy directive is accessible here.

Not only does the Progress Tracker tool serve as a reporting mechanism to the Department of Health, but it is a valuable tool for health services to plan, track, communicate and celebrate implementation of Healthy Choices within their individual organisation.

Support

We are here to support you in assessing your food and drinks against the Policy directive targets. You can contact one of our dedicated Nutrition Policy Advisors for information and advice specific to your health service’s needs.

Brigitte Annois
Nutrition Policy Advisor, APD
Ph: 8341 5808
E: bannois@nutritionaustralia.org.au

Helpful resources

  • Healthy choices: policy directive and guidelines for health services
  • Sugary drinks in public health services factsheet
  • Vending plan-o-grams to meet the Policy directive
  • Reporting against the drinks targets factsheet
  • Reporting against the food targets factsheet
  • Policy directive: food reporting checklist
  • Policy directive: drinks reporting checklist
  • Healthy choices: policy directive instructions for using FoodChecker
Children on a bus giving the thumbs up gesture

For more information please phone 1300 22 52 88 or email heas@nutritionaustralia.org.au

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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