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Junk food giants slow to swallow Health Stars

CHOICE says it's time the global confectionery giants stopped sugar-coating the truth and displayed Health Stars on all packs

14 September 2016

Consumer group CHOICE is calling on global confectionery companies, Mars and Mondelez, to stop hiding behind their marketing messages and roll out Health Stars Ratings on all their products.  

"These global food giants have changed their packaging many times since the Health Star system was launched two years ago. There is no excuse for them hiding the health information their customers crave," says CHOICE's head of media Tom Godfrey.  

The call comes following CHOICE research which found 76% of Australians refer to the Health Star Rating regularly when choosing processed foods. 

"The Health Star Rating is a great initiative from the federal government that allows consumers to quickly compare the nutritional value of packaged foods within categories," Mr Godfrey says.

"With more than three quarters of Australians referring to the Star Ratings when making decisions in the supermarket, we can only assume the confectionary companies' failure to adopt the system is because they are embarrassed about the nutritional value of the food they sell."  

CHOICE's research also found the system is recognised by 72% of people in Australia, with a staggering 85% of young Aussies aware of Health Star Ratings when shopping.

"Our research clearly shows the Health Stars are working, 74% of Australians strongly agree front of pack labels help them make healthier food choices," says Mr Godfrey. 

"People are using the system to make better choices and they want to see the ratings on more products. Our research shows 79% of people strongly agree they would like Health Stars to appear on more products.

"Although the Health Star Rating is currently voluntary, many major retailers including Coles and Woolworths have rolled the system out across all their products. We'd like to congratulate these brands in taking such a positive step to help consumers make informed food choices.

"Coles confirmed to CHOICE they now have Health Stars on more than 1500 Coles brand products including packaged salads, our grill meat range for the barbecue, breakfast cereals, muesli bars, some groceries, milk and juices. 

"It seems clear Mondelez's reluctance to roll out Health Stars is because they are embarrassed by the nutritional profile of their products. 

"When you consider Mondelez's  'all natural' Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese would only display 1 Health Star [1]  compared to Coles Cream Cheese's 3 Health Stars, the motivation to hide the rating is plain to see.

"It's time the likes of Mars, Mondelez and Goodman Fielder rolls out Health Stars on all their products, following the lead of Coles and Woolworths."

Media contact:

Tom Godfrey – 0430 172 669 –

About the survey

The research was jointly funded by CHOICE and Consumer NZ. The survey was conducted online in partnership with The ORU, an ISO accredited panel provider and full AMSRO member. Fieldwork was undertaken from 4-14 July 2016. The sample of Australian consumers was 1010 and is weighted to be nationally representative of 2011 ABS census data. The sample of New Zealand consumers was 530 and is weighted to be nationally representative of the 2013 Statistics New Zealand Census.

[1] Food Switch App