The Health Star Rating food labelling system

Nikki Kaye announced:

Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye today announced that the government will be adopting a new Health Star Rating system.

“Cabinet agreed earlier this week to New Zealand adopting this voluntary system that has been developed as part of the Australian and New Zealand Ministers’ Food Forum,” Ms Kaye says.

I’m supportive of this, for three reasons.

  1. It is voluntary, not mandatory
  2. Providing information to people so they can make better informed decisions is far better way to deal with obesity than trying to ban things
  3. The star rating system is more nuanced than other systems such as traffic lights which are too simplistic.

Research has shown the system will have a positive effect on consumers’ ability to identify healthier food products, Ms Kaye says. Uptake will be determined by companies choosing to adopt it and consumer demand. 

The new system uses a star rating scale of ½ to 5 stars and, except for some exclusions such as alcohol, is able to be used on all packaged food products for retail sale. Foods with more stars reflect better nutritional value. The number of stars is determined by an algorithm that considers the overall nutritional value of the food.

The way they are calculated is:

The nutrient profiling system used in the Health Star Rating system is consistent with Dietary Guidelines. The system takes into account four aspects of a food associated with increasing the risk factors for chronic diseases (energy, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars) along with certain ‘positive’ aspects of a food such as fruit and vegetable content, and in some instances dietary fibre and protein content. Taking these components into account, points are allocated based on the nutritional composition of 100g or 100 ml, following the units used in the nutrition information panel (NIP) of a food.

Look forward to seeing these appear. I’ve found knowing what is in the food you buy makes a big difference.

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