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Five-year review of Health Star Rating completed

18 / 09 / 19

The five year Review of the Health Star Rating system (HSR) report is now complete and was tabled at the meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum of Food Regulation on 16 August. The Forum is expected to respond to the recommendations within the report by the end of 2019.

Overall the review found the HSR system has been performing well and found strong support for it to continue.

  • The HSR is displayed on approximately one third of packaged food in Australian and New Zealand supermarkets, with uptake steadily increasing since implementation
  • Studies show the system is well aligned with Dietary Guidelines and steers consumers towards foods lower in energy, saturated fats, sugars and sodium
  • Most consumers find it easy to understand and use
  • The HSR is encouraging positive reformulation of foods

The key recommendations are:

  • Australian, state and territory and New Zealand governments fund the system for a further four years
  • Transfer of the HSR calculator to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ)
  • The HSR continue to be voluntary but with specific industry uptake targets to improve uptake
  • Better align the HSR calculator with the Dietary Guidelines
  • Add fruits and vegetables into the system

Specific recommendations include:

  • Increase the HSR of specific core foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products – fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables with no additions of salt, sugar or fat automatically receive a HSR of 5. Increase the HSR of core dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt and decrease HSR of dairy desserts. A two year transition period from date of government acceptance to allow industry to implement the changes.
  • More strongly penalise total sugars – lower the HSR in 5% products (including breakfast cereals, snack bars, sweetened milks, ice creams and confectionery)
  • Improve sodium sensitivity (reduce the maximum sodium levels used to determine baseline points in several categories to better differentiate between products with 900mg/100g and 2,700mg/100g, such as savoury sauces, stocks, meal bases, processed meats and preserved vegetable products)
  • Recategorise certain discretionary foods such as jellies and ice confections to decrease their HSR
  • Better support consumers to select non-dairy beverages closest in nutritional profile to water, specifically those low in energy and sugars. Plain waters will have an HSR of 5, unsweetened flavoured waters 4.5, 100% fruit and vegetable juices between 2.5 and 4 (based on their sugars and energy content), diet drinks no more than 3.5 and sugary soft drinks between 0.5 and 2 (based on their sugars and energy content).

Additional recommendations also include wider public health nutrition policy support, enhancing the critical infrastructure to support implementation and evaluation of food and nutrition-related public health initiatives, including the HSR System, through: regular updates to Dietary Guidelines; regular national health and nutrition surveys; establishment of a comprehensive, data set of branded food products; and improved monitoring of the system.

To view this report, go to the Health Star Rating website: http://www.healthstarrating.gov.au

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