Choice urges ministers to act on health star rating

Consumer advocate CHOICE is urging Australia’s health ministers to take action on Health Star Ratings to avoid misleading consumers on high sugar foods.

Choice suggests introducing added sugar labelling on all packaged foods and to ensure that added sugar is more heavily penalised, while ratings on those with natural sugar contents are raised.

“The Health Star Rating System is meant to help people glance at a group of products to understand which options are healthier than others. Health Stars are a good system but they need to be stronger to really help people make easy decisions,” said Choice food expert Linda Przhedetsky.

“Choice’s own modelling has found that increased penalties for added sugar could significantly impact the Health Star Ratings that products are given. Some products containing added sugar would lose as much as 2.5 stars. However, healthier products that contain naturally occurring sugars – like fruit and dairy – gain stars.

Modelling completed by CHOICE based on a public submission from The George Institute based on best available data.

CATEGORYPRODUCTCURRENT HEALTH STAR RATINGPOTENTIAL HEALTH STAR RATING* DIFFERENCE
CerealKellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal41.5-2.5
CerealUncle Tobys Plus Protein41.5-2.5
Kids snackLittle Bellies Organic Gingerbread Men21.5-0.5
Snack barEmma and Tom’s Cacao & Orange Life Bar11.50.5
YoghurtGippsland Dairy Natural Yoghurt44.50.5

“Right now, the Health Star Rating algorithm treats all sugars the same. The system doesn’t distinguish between the extra sugar that’s added to foods like breakfast cereals and the naturally occurring sugars in dairy or fruits.”

Australia and New Zealand introduced the voluntary Health Star Rating system in 2014 to provide consumers with an overall signal about a food’s healthiness. Governments are now conducting a review of the system, five years on.

Comments

4 comments

  1. Brian Nasr posted on June 25, 2019

    How can small, independant Health Food prodcuers get involved with lobbying against the governmen to see some real change with this system? We are all severley disadvantaged under this current system. Any advice owuld be appreciated as I know myself, and many, many others are backing heavy changes to at least support us small operators. reply

  2. Robert posted on June 25, 2019

    To be honest this is a bit like taking on the NRA about gun control. The health star rating was developed by a lobby group known as the Food and Grocery Council which represents the multinational food manufacturers as a response to government push to force food processors to have more transparent product labelling. The original proposal was very much aimed at forcing unhealthy food makers to clearly state if their product was unhealthy by putting a red traffic light on the pack. The criteria used for labelling foods is being driven by the wrong parties with an agenda of keeping cheap processed food moving through the cash register. The only way to fight this is to change the narrative as to what constitutes a health food by getting the media sensationalist stories (they will not publish boring factual stories) reply

  3. Hamish Waugh posted on June 25, 2019

    The system is a joke, has 0 credibility under the current rules. reply

  4. Brian Nasr posted on June 25, 2019

    Totally agree on the above. It's funny how people are told to lobby the government against these bog organisations, yet the government is being heavily funded by them. The only real way to fix the system is to get the consumers to actually stop purchasing the crappy products and start making noise themselves against the big corporations. reply

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