Food for thought in rat­ings sys­tem re­vamp

The Weekend Post - - Nation - ROSE BRENNAN

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.

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