Food for thought in ratings system revamp
FRESH fruit and vegies may be included for the first time in Australia’s food health ratings system with processed food products prevented from using sneaky tricks to get good scores as the Federal Government gets ready to overhaul the scheme. The Health Star Rating (HSR) system for food was introduced in 2014.
The system rates the value of products by giving them a score out of five. However, the system is voluntary and not all foods are rated. Experts say it confuses shoppers and needs a shake-up.
Manufacturers can often score higher health ratings by adding superfluous protein and fibre to their sugar-laden products, such as sweet breakfast cereals. Others get ratings assuming specific use of the food — Milo earns 4.5 stars based on the sugary powder being prepared with skim milk.
“Ultimately companies are really sneaky with their marketing and will do anything to try to scam the consumer into buying something they don’t need,” Dietitians Association of Australia spokeswoman Gabrielle Maston said.
Top of the list of demands is for foods riddled with added sugar to be banned from scoring a high rating and fresh fruit and vegetables to be included.
The demands to fix the system were issued to the Federal Government in recommendations by public health experts to a formal five-year review of the HSR. It will be finalised in mid-2019.