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New research: Food industry tricks Australians with health claims

Health Star Ratings must be made compulsory: CHOICE

New CHOICE research has shown the Health Star Rating system has a major impact in disrupting food industry tricks. 1

The survey tested community perceptions of products with and without the Health Star Rating:

is this product healthy 2

is this product healthy

In light of the findings, CHOICE has written to Health Ministers asking that the Health Star Ratings be made compulsory for all packaged products, to ensure that Australians have the ability to make informed and healthy choices.

Full report and letter are available here.

"It's clear to us that Health Stars make it far easier for people to pick healthy foods," says CHOICE food policy expert, Linda Przhedetsky.

"Our survey found that without Health Stars, two-thirds of people rely on marketing material to decide if something is a healthy choice. Too many food brands still try to trick us into buying their unhealthy products with misleading images and claims. A compulsory Health Star Rating system will help disrupt the food industry's tricks."

CHOICE recently submitted a complaint to the ACCC about a number of sugary children's products likely misleading parents through product descriptions such as "no nasties" and "fun and nutritious." CHOICE also awarded Freedom Foods' 'XO Crunch' a 2019 Shonky award for telling parents that a 22.2% added sugar cereal is a "fun and nutritious way to start your kid's day."

"With so many products employing misleading marketing tactics, it's vital that we have a compulsory Health Star Ratings system," says Przhedetsky.

"Our survey revealed that 75% of people that used Health Star Ratings trust the system quite a lot or a great deal. We're asking for the system to be made mandatory so Australians have all the tools they need to make healthy choices."

"Health Stars are important and helpful, so it's vital we don't let food companies game the system. That's why Health Star calculations should be determined by public health experts, and not by food companies. CHOICE wants to see greater penalties for added sugar, which currently isn't considered in the Health Star algorithm."

CHOICE's complete report on the Health Star Ratings system can be found here.

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How Health Star savvy are you? Take our quiz here.

Media contact: Katelyn Cameron,, 0430 172 669

1. [A nationally representative survey of over 1000 Australians conducted in October 2019.]