Healthy Living NT

New 5 Star Food Rating System

19/11/2015 Gerard Wong, Dietitian, Darwin

Nutrient claims, such as no added sugar, good source of fibre, low fat and low salt, are regulated in accordance with specific requirements of Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). However, the food and beverage industry has launched a myriad of new products to offer palatable, lower-calorie alternatives to full-calorie items.

5 star RatingResearch has shown that consumers often perceive these items with health claims as healthier than foods without such claims. While some of these products may offer fewer calories per serving than their counterparts, factors other than calories influence the quantity consumed and ultimately the total calories ingested.

For example, we have long known about the low-fat phenomenon whereby people overconsume snacks labelled as low-fat, negating any difference in caloric intake.

The recently released Health Star Rating is a government initiative which aims to give consumers ‘at-a-glance’ information on the overall healthiness of a food product, similar to the energy ratings currently seen on white goods.

But the rating system itself is not without issues.

For example, soft drinks get 1 star, an artificially sweetened soft drink with no calories has 1.5-2 stars , but a bottle of no added sugar fresh fruit juice (with a carbohydrate load of 50-60g) get 5 stars!!
I also fear the presence of the front-of-package star rating will further reduce the likelihood that consumers will pay attention to the detailed nutrition information panel displayed on the back of the package. If you have a client with diabetes, I do not feel that you should be encouraging clients to base grocery purchases solely on the star rating system at this stage.
(This article used the Food Switch Stars rating app from Bupa).

This article was published on Healthy Living News edition June 2015. To read more interesting article please click here

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