Frequently asked questions

Why is there a Policy?

Eating a nutritious diet is important to health throughout all stages of life. Poor diet is a significant risk factor for obesity and a number of preventable chronic diseases, including but not limited to, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers and musculoskeletal conditions.

Health and hospital services are in an ideal position to reinforce the health and nutrition messages being promoted by health care professionals and health promotion programs. They can be role models for other workplaces and settings by providing and promoting affordable and nutritious foods and drinks in all premises and facilities. Food outlets and vending machines are a major source of meals, beverages and snacks for outpatients, visitors and staff within WA Health establishments.

The Healthy Options WA: Food and Nutrition Policy for WA Health Services and Facilities (the Policy) aims to maintain and improve the health of staff and the broader community by providing health care environments that support and model nutritious and healthy eating options. It supports outpatients, visitors and staff to make healthier choices by promoting and increasing access to affordable, nutritious and tasty food and drinks relative to energy-dense nutrient-poor options.

Is the Policy compulsory?

Yes. The Policy is mandatory and applies to:

  • all food and drink outlets under the control or management of WA Health
    • canteens, cafes and kiosks
    • ward trolleys
    • vending machines
  • professional and business catering
  • fundraising initiatives, events and prizes.
What is the aim and objectives of the Policy?

The Policy aims to maintain and improve the health of staff and the broader community by providing health care environments that support and model nutritious and healthy eating options.

The objectives of the Policy are to ensure that:

  • a wide range of healthy food and drinks is available through food and drink outlets within WA Health services and facilities (sites) 
  • healthy food and drinks are visible and promoted
  • healthy options are available at all times.
Which sites does the Policy apply to?

The Policy applies to all WA Health services and facilities (sites), including:

  • Metropolitan Health Services
  • WA Country Health Service
  • Department of Health
Does the Policy apply to all food and drinks within a site?

The Policy applies to all settings and occasions where food and drinks are made available to staff, visitors and outpatients such as:

  • food and drink outlets under the control or management of WA Health
    • canteens, cafes and kiosks
    • ward trolleys
    • vending machines
  • professional and business catering
  • fundraising initiatives, events and prizes.

The Policy does NOT apply to:

  • inpatient or aged care resident meals
  • staff social functions
  • food and drinks that staff bring from home.
What does Policy compliance mean?
There are three areas of Policy compliance:
  1. Offer – means offered for sale; relates to the total range and number of different items of food and drink options available for sale. 
  2. Display – the area or space within the outlet that is available to place food and drinks on view to customers. 
  3. Promotion – the active or passive marketing of food and drinks.
How do outlets comply with the Policy?

To be compliant with the Policy all food and drink outlets must ensure that they:

  • offer
    • a minimum of 50% green food and drinks
    • no more than 20% red food and drinks
    • the remainder to be amber food and drinks.
  • display
    • a minimum of 50% green food and drinks
    • no more than 20% red food and drinks
    • the remainder to be amber food and drinks.
  • promote
    • only green food and drinks.
How is the offer percentage of green, amber and red calculated?

Offer relates to the total range and number of different food and drink options available for sale. To calculate the percentage of Green, Amber and Red offered, the first step is to count the number of different varieties of green, amber and red items available.

This can be shown by the example vending machine below:

Healthy options  drink table

1. Count the number of different varieties of:

  • Green items: 4 (i.e. water, 99% 250mL fruit juice, plain dried fruit 20g, plain mixed nuts)
  • Amber items: 2 (i.e. diet soft drink, 99% 500mL fruit juice)
  • Red items: 1 (i.e. soft drink)
  • Total items: 7

2. Calculate the percentage of:

  • Green items: 4/7 x 100= 57%
  • Amber items: 2/7 x 100= 29%
  • Red items: 1/7 x 100= 14%

For cafes, canteens, kiosks and ward trolleys, the same process is used – start by counting the number of different options that are available for sale – this includes food and drinks listed on menu boards, in display fridges, bain maries, on counters or ward trolleys. Tip: remember that ‘offer’ relates to the entire food supply that is available for purchase.

How is the display percentage of green, amber and red calculated?

Display is the area that foods and drinks are on view to customers. Display is calculated by counting the total area/space available. This can be shown by the example vending machine below:

Healthy options  drink table

1.Count the total spaces available:

  • Green spaces: 6 
  • Amber spaces: 2
  • Red spaces: 2
  • Total spaces: 10

2.Calculate the percentage of:

  • Green items: 6/10 x 100= 60%
  • Amber items: 2/10 x 100= 20%
  • Red items: 2/10 x 100= 20%

For cafes, canteens, kiosks and ward trolleys, display is calculated by counting the number of food and drinks that are visible to customers for example on the trolley, in display fridges, on the counter, in bain maries or drinks fridges. Food and drinks that are hidden from view i.e. beneath the counter or made to order are not on display and therefore, do not count towards display percentages. Tip: remember that ‘display’ relates only to the food and drinks that are visible to customers.

How do I colour code a product using the nutrition information panel?

Use the Commonly supplied food and drink guide (PDF 1.54MB) to determine the colour coding of the product.

I am making a freshly prepared item, how do I know its classification?

Use the Commonly supplied food and drink guide (PDF 1.54MB) to determine the colour coding of the item.

Are there any drinks classified as green?

Yes. The drinks classified as green are: 

  • plain water
  • plain or flavoured sparkling water with no added sugar, artificial or intense sweeteners
  • 99% fruit juice, 250mL or less
  • plain or flavoured reduced fat milk, 300mL or less
  • tea or coffee made with reduced fat milk, 300mL or less.
Does colour coding of products take additives and preservatives into account?

No. The Policy is based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. While these guidelines do not take additives and preservatives into account, the recommendation is that ‘fresh is best’ and therefore reduces the overall consumption of additives and preservatives.

Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand are the government body that sets limits for all additives and preservatives in foods made in or imported to Australia. If you would like more information visit FSANZ (external site).

Why do reduced fat and full fat milks have different colour codings?

According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, reduced fat milk is recommended for people over the age of two. Plain and flavoured reduced fat milk, 300mL or less, is classified as green. Reduced fat milk larger than 300mL is classified as amber.

Full fat milk can contribute to excess energy and fat intake. Plain and flavoured full fat milk of any volume is amber.

Can a meal or sandwich be Green if it contains any Amber ingredients?

No. Meals and sandwiches must contain only green ingredients to be classified as green.

Are staff social functions required to comply with the Policy?

No. Only professional and business event catering must comply with the Policy. However, a site-wide approach to the supply of healthy food and drinks is encouraged.

Where can I find healthier recipes?

You can find healthier recipe ideas on the following websites:

How do I assess a product that has 2 servings per pack?

You must multiply the per serve values by two as the actual serve is the entire pack. An example of this can be found in ‘Example 2’ of the Commonly supplied food and drink guide (PDF 1.54MB).

Do I assess products per 100g or per serve?

This depends on the type of product. Use the nutrient criteria in the Commonly supplied food and drink guide (PDF 1.54MB).

Where can I find resources to assist me?

There are plenty of useful resources on the Healthy Options WA website. If you have any further questions, email the Healthy Options WA team at healthyoptions@health.wa.gov.au.