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Milo comes clean on health stars

CHOICE welcomes Nestle’s move to stop gaming the health star system

01 March 2018

Following CHOICE’s ongoing campaign, Nestle has agreed to drop its dishonest 4.5-star rating on Australia’s popular powdered drink, Milo. The consumer group is now urging the food giant to display the correct 1.5 star health rating for the chocolate-powder.

"CHOICE has been calling for change since we first revealed Nestle had been manipulating the Federal Government’s health star system with a rating that’s based on just three teaspoons of Milo with skim milk," says CHOICE Campaigns and Policy Team Lead, Katinka Day.

"Most Aussies don’t consume Milo with skim milk alone. To claim a health star rating by adding nutritionally superior ingredients of another product is not helpful, especially for people who eat their Milo with full cream milk, or even straight out of the can or on ice-cream.

"It’s a move that smacks of marketing trickery rather than a genuine attempt to help consumers make an informed choice."

CHOICE wants to see health stars on as many products as possible and would like to see Nestle display the correct health star rating for Milo.

"While we welcome Nestle’s decision to ditch its dishonest star rating, it doesn’t go far enough. Milo needs to display a 1.5 star rating which reflects the product’s actual ingredients."

CHOICE supports the ongoing work of the Federal Government to review the health star rating system and is urging quick action to stop food giants gaming the system as a part of its review.

"Health stars are a great system that can help consumers make an informed choice but the guidelines need tightening up to make sure unhealthy products can't make themselves appear better than they really are," says Ms Day.

Five key changes CHOICE is calling for as part of the review:

  • Make sure foods high in sugar, fat or salt can't get a high star rating
  • Make health stars appear on all products
  • Make sure companies can't claim a high rating based on mixing their product with something more nutritious
  • Include added sugar into the health star calculation
  • Make sure health stars promote whole foods not juices and fruit concentrates.

"When a consumer sees a chocolate-based powdered product that is high in sugar carrying a 4.5-star rating, there’s the risk they’ll ignore the whole system," says Ms Day.

"Health stars were introduced to help consumers make healthier choices, and we want it to work. Food manufacturers need to stop abusing the system to promote nutrient-poor foods".

In 2016, CHOICE handed Nestle a Shonky Award for sugar-coating the health star rating on its malt chocolate drink.

Media Inquiries

Tom Godfrey, CHOICE Head of Media and Spokesperson - 0430 172 669 - @choice_news

Health star ratings of three teaspoons of Milo (20 grams) with popular mixers:

• 200 mL of skim milk: 4.5 stars

• 200 mL of light or reduced fat milk: 3 stars

• 200 mL of full cream milk: 2.5 stars

• 45 grams of Streets Vanilla Ice Cream: 2 stars

• Milo on its own: 1.5 stars