Healthy food choices are important to help maintain a healthy body weight. However food packaging currently provides no clear guidance about which foods are healthier choices. Marketing claims on the front of food packages don’t always tell the full story and nutrition information panels in fine print on the back of the pack can be complex and confusing for some shoppers.
We want shoppers to be able to quickly and easily identify healthier choices and to trust that the information on the front of the package is promoting healthier foods.
On Friday 14 June 2013 the Commonwealth and state and territory food and health ministers announced that a Health Star Rating system will be introduced on food labels to help shoppers make healthier choices. The Commonwealth Government worked with health, industry and consumer stakeholders to develop the best system to assist Australian shoppers.
The Health Star Rating system is used on packaged, manufactured or processed foods but is voluntary at this stage and relies on food industry co-operation to adopt it. The government indicated a mandatory approach would be considered if industry uptake of the scheme was not widespread within two years.
The system consists of a star rating scale from ½ star for the least healthy foods to 5 stars for the healthiest foods. The number of stars is calculated using a government endorsed system. The Health Star Rating system can also show nutrition information for the important nutrients that increase the risk of chronic disease – saturated fat, sugars, and sodium as well as kilojoules. Food manufacturers also have the option of displaying nutrition information about one positive nutrient such as calcium or fibre. The system makes comparing products easier by showing the nutrition content per 100 grams.