I received a lovely letter this week advising me that the Consumer Protection Awards (WA) 2021 judging panel, have selected me as a finalist for the Rona Okley Award Category.

I was thrilled to be recognised as a finalist for many reasons that I will share with you shortly. First, let’s get you up to speed (for those that aren’t aware) about what the awards are and what they represent.

About the Consumer Protection Awards

The Consumer Protection Awards is an opportunity to “recognise and reward the achievements of those who help communities understand and have better access to consumer protection in everyday situations.”

This work can take many different forms including:

– Raising awareness of consumer rights

– Championing the cause of disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers

– Making a significant contribution to policy formulations; and

– Developing outstanding promotion and education programs on consumer protection issues.

Award categories

There are four award categories, three of which have been named after Western Australian consumer protection pioneers.

The Rona Okely Award “acknowledges an individual Western Australian who has influenced and inspired consumer protection in their community. They have given their time, energy and experience to help others and are a positive role model for those involved in the public..”

Nominees must be an individual who can demonstrate a significant achievement, contribution and commitment to protecting Western Australian consumers.

What does this mean for our AFK Community?

I am delighted that as a finalist, our movement is going to be showcased on a larger stage. More Australian parents will have the opportunity to learn about the impact additives can have on our most vulnerable – our kids.

Since 2014, collectively, as a community, we have realised many important achievements:

– created the first Additive Free Marketplace Directory (online) in Australia

– became your representative to the Global Anti Additive Association (Asia Pacific Region)

– initiated the first additive free endorsement trial in Perth supermarkets, reviewing thousands of fast moving packaged goods in an Australian first initiative

– developed an online 6 week coaching program to inform and educate parents

– created the Additive Free Advocates membership to provide consumers the information they are seeking to make informed decisions in the supermarket.

We have achieved a lot…but there is a lot more to do!

This work is important as Australia is in the midst of a children’s health care crisis. Obesity, ADHD, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, learning difficulties, autism, asthma, type 2 diabetes, food allergies plague our children. Unless action is taken, the health of our children will continue to decline.

There are many issues with our current food regulation system:

– Consumers health must come before industry interests (health before profits)

– Accountability – FSANZ should be given the appropriate enforcement capabilities to ensure its standards are met 

– Transparency – Consumers have the right to know what they are eating. FSANZ should be given the powers to require this information is provided by manufacturers.

– FSANZ independence is required, free from industry influence and profits. The current system is inherently flawed.

This work is especially important for our children as:

– reactions / complaints to our food are not currently monitored or recorded

– acceptable daily intake levels of additives are not set for children (they have weaker blood brain barriers)

– additives are not tested on our gut microbiome. Changes in our gut microbiome indicate potential issues

– additives are not tested for long term impacts prior to being approved for use in our food supply

– additives are not tested in combination (only individually). They have a greater impact when they interact with each other.

– foods with additives prohibited for infants should be labelled so as to alert parents.

Our grass roots movement is united and being heard

Through our product reviews, parents are equipped with the information they need to make informed decisions. Reviewing products on your behalf, I am able to cut through the marketing spin and reveal the deception that often occurs behind the marketing campaigns.

When consumers are empowered with this knowledge, they go out and vote with their dollar. The most shocking revelations from these reviews have seen products removed from supermarket shelves (Coles, Woolworths) as sales plummeted (the most recent example being Rosella’s Honest Kids tomato sauce – you can see our review here).

As our community members become more confident and knowledgeable in this area, this has a ripple effect into:

– social circles (family and friends including sharing petitions)

– day care centres – our RESET participants want to see change in their centres

– schools and their canteens – Additive Free Advocates are joining P&C’s, volunteering in the school canteens championing for change to real food alternatives and removing food rewards from our classrooms

– sporting clubs – advocates are championing for healthier alternatives for our kids – ditching the lollies for fresh fruit instead.

Through the efforts of this community and each of our advocates we have seen these organisations making positive changes for their members all whilst benefiting our kids. It is amazing to see the ripple effect.

Imagine what is possible when more Australian parents are educated about the impact additives can have on their children!

Regardless of the outcome of the 2021 Consumer Protection Awards, being selected as a finalist is a huge honour and achievement for this whole community. I will update you in April with the results from the presentation ceremony.

Frankie Bell is the Managing Director of Additive Free Kids, a food coach, mentor and is one of Australia’s leading activists against additives in foods.

Frankie is a mum to 5 boys and has personal experience working through the damaging effects of additives to resolve the multiple health issues and behavioural problems in her own children. It became Frankie’s purpose to help other families achieve the same improvements for their families.

These changes can be overwhelming, especially for time poor parents, Frankie has done all the hard work for families to ensure they have access to additive free food, anytime, anywhere. Additive Free Kids specialises in assisting families to live healthy lives free from additives. See how you can work together with Frankie here.

Frankie Bell - Additive Free Kids