News & Media

Health Star Rating still on the right trajectory

Australia’s gold standard front of pack nutrition labelling system – the Health Star Rating (HSR) scheme – has been given a tick, albeit with a lot of work still to be done to perfect it, by Australia’s food Ministers today (Friday 17 July 2020) at the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (FOFR) meeting.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) supports the decision made by Ministers from Federal, State and Territory Governments that the HSR will be calculated with a new, more robust algorithm under calculator 1 but ‘work’ still needs to be done on categories such as dairy.

AFGC Acting CEO Dr Geoffrey Annison said two calculators were considered by the Forum, with the first, calculator 1 being preferred, despite its clear short comings for some foods such as dairy products and fruit juices. Fortunately, the second, calculator 2 was dismissed out of hand failing the key tests of being evidence based and aligned with the current dietary guidelines.

“This signals that there is still a future for the HSR on packaged foods and beverages here in Australia.  The current HSR is an evidence-based, world leading system that we as an industry have always backed and will continue to do so as long as it maintains its integrity, its nutritional science base and its usefulness for consumers.

“There is no greater, stauncher supporter of the HSR than the food industry,” said Dr Annison.

“While there is now going to be a review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines which have not been updated in almost 10 years as announced by the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt today, to have the backing of the Ministers for a sensible approach for the HSR will give industry the confidence to continue to implement the HSR.

“Uptake by Industry will continue and once the Dietary Guidelines review has been finalised this will help guide the finalisation of calculator 1. Industry should not be expected to undertake costly labelling changes before the new HSR system is finalised. “We look forward to working in collaboration with government to make sure the transition is seamless for industry and evidence-based guidance continues for consumers seeking healthier dietary choices.

“Some will be disappointed in this decision, preferring the system to be pulled down then see calculator 1 get up. But it is time that all stakeholders support this system into the future for the sake of better public health.” Dr Annison said.