Healthy Food Partnership Voluntary Industry Best Practice Guide for Serving Sizes - Public Consultation

Closed 4 Aug 2021

Opened 24 Jun 2021

Feedback updated 24 Apr 2023

We asked

For your feedback on the draft Healthy Food Partnership Serving Size Recommendations and example pages of the Industry Best Practice Guide (the Guide). The Guide aims to provide practical solutions to support the food industry to reduce the serving sizes. The Guide covers 11 discretionary foods and beverages for the retail and out of home sectors.

You said

We received 27 submissions from food industry, public health organisations, academia, government and consumers. There was strong support for portion and serving size guidance as a public health measure. Practical and detailed feedback was provided on the individual categories and the design of the Guide. Useful feedback was also provided on the look and feel of the layout of the example pages and the usefulness of the included information.

We did

We reviewed and considered the feedback provided and developed a Consultation Summary. The working group refined the serving sizes and tailored the content of the Guide. Among other changes, the title of the Guide was amended to the ‘Industry Guide to Voluntary Serving Size Reduction’.

The final Guide is now available on the Healthy Food Partnership website.

The Consultation Summary is available on the Consultation Hub and the Healthy Food Partnership website. Complete submissions will be published on the website (if consent to publish was granted by the respondent).


Healthy Food Partnership  

Portion sizes of many foods are increasing in Australia (1). In late 2015, the Australian Government established the Healthy Food Partnership (HFP) with the aim of improving the dietary habits of Australians by making healthier food choices easier and more accessible and by raising awareness of appropriate food choices and portion sizes (2). 

A Portion Size Working Group (PSWG) was established with a key objective to consider how to work with industry to optimise portion sizes. A recommendation was to develop an industry engagement strategy, including the development of a best practice guide on serving size to provide Industry with guidance and support and the development of recommended serving sizes for key discretionary foods and drinks. The PSWG also developed a guide to consistent terminology for describing the difference between a serve, serving size and portion size (3). 




Five food groups 

This includes foods that form the basis of a healthy diet, based on or developed with reference to recommended daily intakes. 

Discretionary food 

This includes foods and drinks not necessary to provide the nutrients the body needs, but that may add variety. However, many of these are high in saturated fats, added sugars, salt and/or alcohol, and are therefore described as energy dense. They can be included sometimes in small amounts by those who are physically active, but are not a necessary part of the diet. 

Out-of-home sector 

Any outlet where food or drink is prepared in a way that means it is ready for immediate consumption by the person who buys it, such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, clubs, quick-service restaurants, school and work canteens, as well as online businesses that sell food or drink for takeaway or home delivery that is ready to be consumed. 

Portion size 

The size or amount of food and/or drink selected by an individual from what is on offer. 

Retail foods 

Packaged and unpackaged food and beverage products sold in Australian retail environments – eg. supermarkets and convenience stores. 

Serve size 

A reference amount of a food or beverage described by the Australian Dietary Guidelines. 

Serving size 

The size or amount of a product (food and/or drink), suggested by others, such as on-pack labelling by a manufacturer or provided by a food service business. 


To date, much of the focus of dietary advice to the community has been on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through dietary guidelines which promote the five food groups foods and reducing risk associated nutrients in the Australian diet (saturated fat, sodium, added sugar and alcohol). A complementary approach is to specifically support the community to reduce the number of serves and portion sizes of discretionary food and drinks consumed and, in some cases, increase number of serves of five food group foods. This may displace intake of energy from discretionary food and drinks and reduce intake of risk associated nutrients.  

A 2017 study examining changes in portion sizes between the 1995 and 2011-2012 national dietary surveys found that portion sizes had increased for half of the discretionary foods surveyed (1). As larger serving sizes lead to higher food and energy intakes than smaller serving sizes, and little compensation occurs at subsequent meals (4), it is important that appropriate serving sizes are available. 

The recommended serving sizes are intended to drive a decrease in energy  and risk associated nutrients intake from priority food categories. 

Industry Best Practice Guide Working Group  

An Industry Best Practice Guide Working Group (IBPGWG) was established to further progress work on a prioritised list of foods and beverages for which serving size recommendations will apply. This includes the development of a Best Practice Guide for Industry on Serving Sizes, comprising:  

  • Adopting consistent terminology 

  • Off-pack labelling information 

  • Voluntary goals relating to sizes of servings 

  • Promoting appropriate sizes of serving 

  • Serving control devices in product presentation 

  • Advice about sizes of servings in consumer communication material 

The guide for industry will provide practical guidance and support to food companies, both in retail and out-of-home settings, to incorporate nutrition as a key driver for setting appropriate serving sizes for food and drinks. For example, changing tableware size, packaging and portions are proven to help with reducing consumption of food (5). 

Preview consultation

You can download a preview of this consultation under 'Related' at the bottom of this page.

Responding to the consultation

Responses to the consultation questions are to be submitted through this online consultation platform. It is not necessary to complete the survey in one sitting. You can save where you are up to and come back later as needed by pressing the blue “save and come back later” button at the bottom of the page.

PLEASE NOTE: The Working Groups Rationale, Serving Size Recommendations and Food Category Definitions can be found at the bottom of the page under 'Related'. Please ensure you have read these documents in full before you provide feedback.


(1) Zheng, M, Rangan, A, Meertens, B and Wu, J 2017. Changes in Typical Portion Sizes of Commonly Consumed Discretionary Foods among Australian Adults from 1995 to 2011-2012. Nutrients. 6;9(6):577. doi: 10.3390/nu9060577.

(2) Department of Health 2016. Healthy Food Partnership. Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra.

(3) Healthy Food Partnership 2018. Consistent terminology for describing the size of food and beverages.

(4) Hollands, GJ, Shemilt, I, Marteau, TM, et al. (2015) Portion, package or tableware size for changing selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (9):CD011045.

Why your views matter

The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholder and community feedback on the draft Best Practice Guide for Serving Sizes. The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders and interested members of the community are valued  and will contribute to the final Guide.

What happens next

Your feedback will be used to assist the IBPGWG to finalise recommendations about industry best practice serving sizes and food category definitions.

Responses to the survey will be reviewed and if required further targeted clarification may be undertaken. A report summarising the submissions and the recommendations will be prepared.

Recommendations of the IBPWG will then be considered by the Healthy Food Partnership Executive Committee.


  • Anyone from any background


  • Preventative health