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Lunchbox stars revealed

CHOICE rates popular playground products 

17 March 2014

CHOICE put popular lunchbox items to the test in a new analysis using the Health Star rating system and found significant variations in the nutritional profile of the products.

"While some of the products compared may only vary by one star, this can mean a significant difference in fibre or sugar content, so the Health Star Rating signals that parents might want to look a little closer when deciding what to buy," says CHOICE Campaigns Manager Angela Cartwright.

The consumer group compared the elements of a ham and cheese sandwich, a muesli bar and a milk popper by applying the Health Star Rating calculator.

"CHOICE's snapshot shows how the Health Star Rating scheme would help parents make healthier choices for their kids," says Ms Cartwright. 

"When it comes to a ham and cheese sandwich, there was a one star difference between the two breads, a two star difference between the ham options and two and half stars separating both the cheeses and the spreads."

"With the barrage of marketing spin on food products it can be difficult for shoppers to tell which products are really better for them, and this is particularly so for busy mums and dads rushing through the weekly shop. CHOICE's analysis of lunchbox favourites shows how the Health Star Rating would help by providing an objective rating that can be understood at a glance."

Product  Rating Product Rating
 Tip Top 9 Grain Wholemeal bread  4.5 Tip Top Sunblest Soft White Sandwich bread   3.5
 Meadow Lea Spreadable Original  3  Western Star Spreadable Original  0.5
 Primo Thinly Sliced Salt Reduced Leg Ham  4  Thinly Sliced English Leg Ham  2
 Bega Country Light Tasty Cheese Slices [25% less fat]    Bega Farmer's Tasty Cheese Slices  1.5
 Freedom Foods Free Oats Chewy Apricot bars  4  Uncle Tobys Muesli Bars Chewy Apricot  3
 Devondale Our Lightest One Skim Milk  4.5  Devondale Moo Chocolate Milk  3


CHOICE used the Health Star Rating Calculator to determine the number of stars for products. The Health Star Rating scheme was developed by industry, consumer, and public health groups with support from government. The calculator that determines the ratings has been extensively tested by food companies and refined to ensure the nasties like saturated fat, sugar and sodium are accounted for while awarding extra points for fibre, protein and the presence of fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes in the ingredients. The Health Star Rating scheme is expected to be rolled out by food companies on a voluntary basis from July 2014.

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