Australian Food To Get Health-Based Star Ratings System

Australia is one step closer to getting a front-of-pack food rating system that will see products receive stars based on the amount of sugars, saturated fats and salt they contain. In other words, calorie counting is about to get a whole lot easier.

Shopping picture from Shutterstock

Much like with the energy ratings for white goods, Australian consumers will soon be able to tell at a glance which packaged food is the best option. The system, which will include separate icons for energy, saturated fat, sodium and sugars, will have an overall rating out of five stars; with five being the healthiest option.

The new food labelling system was approved by an intergovernmental forum on food policy and is the result of an 18-month collaborative process involving government, food industry representatives and independent health and consumer groups.

While the scheme will initially be voluntary, the forum has stipulated that it will introduce mandatory legislation if the system is not widely adopted by food companies within two years.

“The food labelling star health rating system endorsed today by Australia’s food regulation ministers has the potential to dramatically improve the nation’s food supply as well as helping consumers make healthier choices," the Heart Foundation’s Dr Rob Grenfell said in a statement.

"[We] have consistently called for a robust, mandatory front-of-pack labelling scheme that help consumers make healthier choices as well as encourage food companies to reformulate their products to make them healthier, for example by cutting salt, saturated fat and sugar and adding healthier ingredients such as fibre."

According to Professor Ian Olver, CEO of the Cancer Council Australia, that new scheme will help consumers to circumvent current food rating systems which he labels as "unclear and confusing".

"The health star rating scheme provides a clear, overall indication based on the amount of sugars, saturated fats and salt in packaged foods," Olver said.

"People wanting to reduce their consumption of these nutrients, which are harmful if not consumed in moderation, will have much clearer guidance when the system is introduced. By basing the rating on 100 gram servings, the scheme will enable direct comparisons between products as part of providing more informed choices."

Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, added the following: "We finally have a way where a parent with a couple of demanding children trying to make purchases of packaged food will be able to see the nutritious value of the food in just a glance."

History suggests that voluntary regulations aren't hugely successful: for instance, the home video classification system was initially up to the entertainment industry to regulate, but was eventually enforced by government due to their shoddy efforts. The promise of a compulsory system within two years is therefore very comforting.

The intergovernmental forum behind the scheme is still working out the finer details of the system, but we can expect to see the first star-rated products appear in around one year.


Comments

    18-month collaborative process

    ... Whoa - that long to come up with stars?

    ... involving government

    Oh, that makes sense.

    the 100g serving size for everything is fantastic. Much better than the Daily GI nonsense.

    The "Daily GI" information on products is absolutely useless, a single Tim-Tam for example, is apparently an entire serving. Because Everyone has one Tim-Tam, gets full and puts the packet back.

      i thought ''one serve'' of TimTams was one packet?!??!

      But have you noticed on some things a serve is like 2.5 biscuits out of packet of 16 or similar, how do they get away wth that! who stops at half a piece!

    nanny state nanny state FAT OVERWEIGHT nanny state

      completely agree, helping consumers to understand the health value of food packets while not hindering a single person, is the definition of a nanny state.

      I just like it helps elimiate any worse foods more quickly, saying to kids only food with 4 or 5 stars might help........

      ORRRRRRR ya know avoid the lollies and chocolates isle completly! that is easier and quicker than waiting 18 months to be told what is healthy

    I wonder if these rating can be bought like the Heart Foundation Tick e.g. http://bit.ly/xrQVZZ

    as well as encourage food companies to reformulate their products to make them healthier, for example by cutting salt, saturated fat and sugar and adding healthier ingredients such as fibre.

    Removing those things will result in bland tastes, or artificial flavours, that people won't like and won't buy.

    People know what food is bad for them, they choose to eat it anyway. You don't need star systems on fresh produce, lean meats and fish because we know that is what we are supposed to eat. If you are

    a parent with a couple of demanding children

    you are buying packaged food because it is convenient. Convenient food is usually processed, and processed is usually bad.

      but dumb parents, kids or stupid people don't kow when enough is enough or when to stop, then all of a sudden they are the fat kid or 30 and having heart attacks

    Star rating? Really? What will happen then is that people will equate X-amount of stars each day with a health diet.

    "oh, I had two 5-star products today, so I'm allowed that 1-star snack!"

    And totally ignore nutrition, vitamins, et al.

    Now they just gotta fix the dodgy Made in Austrlaia and promote the Product of Australia confusion

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