14 June 2013
In a major win for Australian consumers, a new star rating system for food nutrition has been approved by the nation’s food and health ministers in Sydney today.
CHOICE was part of the committee that developed the Health Star Rating system, along with representatives of government, industry and the public health groups, and CHOICE Chair Jenni Mack led the group that developed the implementation framework.
“CHOICE welcomes the decision by food and health ministers to implement a star rating scheme that will enable consumers to make healthier choices at-a-glance,” says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.
“In particular, we welcome the time frame ministers have imposed on the implementation of the labelling scheme which, in the first instance, will be voluntary. This puts the onus on industry to embrace the Health Star Rating or face a mandatory approach.”
The star ratings give an overall indication of a food’s nutritional quality and will appear on the front of food packages. There will be additional information about the key nutrients that consumers want to know about and are associated with diet-related disease: sugars, saturated fat, sodium and kilojoules.
“We know how difficult it can be when you’re in the supermarket trying to make a healthy choice, particularly when you’re in a rush and don’t have time to scour the complex information on the back of packs,” says Mr Kirkland.
“Shoppers are also bamboozled by the barrage of marketing on food products and the star rating will cut through this confusion. A five-star rating instantly says a product is a great choice, while one star says it is a ‘sometimes’ food.”
The Health Star Rating will be adopted by companies on a voluntary basis and CHOICE will work with industry representatives on the rollout of the scheme.
“The Health Star Rating has been designed to replace the industry’s flawed Daily Intake Guide and the onus will now be on food companies to implement the system widely so that consumers can quickly compare products and make better choices about what they eat.”