Consumer advocate Choice says health ministers must improve food labels so that foods high in added sugar receive lower Health Star Ratings.
“The Health Star Rating system is meant to help people understand which [products] are healthier than others,” Choice Policy & Campaigns Adviser Linda Przhedetsky said. “Health Stars are a good system, but they need to be stronger to help people make easy decisions.
“We’re calling for health ministers to introduce added sugar labelling on all packaged foods and to ensure that added sugar is more heavily penalised in our Health Star Rating system.”
This call comes as new modelling shows how a Health Star Rating algorithm that factors in added sugar could significantly impact the ratings that products are given, with those containing added sugar said to lose up to 2.5 stars.
Healthier products, such as fruit and dairy that contain naturally occurring sugar, would gain stars with the new algorithm.
Choice is advocating:
- Strengthening the Health Star Rating system by properly penalising added sugars, which are not currently required to be clearly listed on food labels.
- Making Health Stars mandatory, to ensure people can make informed choices.
- Ensuring that food labelling food policy development and oversight are free from undue industry influence.
- Taking action on a number of other key changes said to be called for by state health departments and nutrition experts.