Food product packaging can be confusing, with nutrition profiles that are difficult to understand and many different options available on supermarket shelves.The Health Star Rating system provides an easy way to compare similar packaged products and choose healthier options. Health Star Ratings range from ½ a star to 5 stars. The more stars, the healthier the choice.
About the systemThe Health Star Rating system was developed by the Australian and state and territory governments, in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups.
Under the system, packaged products are given a rating based on their nutritional profile, calculated using an algorithm (the Health Star Rating calculator). The calculation takes into account components that are linked to increased risk of developing chronic diseases, as well as beneficial components.
The calculator was developed in consultation with Food Standards Australia New Zealand and other technical and nutrition experts. Points are awarded for positive components (fibre, protein, and fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content) balanced against other components (energy, sugars, sodium, and saturated fat). Ratings for all products are calculated based on a consistent measure of either 100g or 100mL of a product. This means that the ratings of similar products can be compared at-a-glance.
Why do we need Health Star Ratings?Maintaining a healthy weight, increasing the intake of beneficial nutrients and reducing the intake of risk nutrients is important for everyone. This can help you to live longer, get more out of life and reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
What we eat and drink is a large determinant of our health. Making changes to the food we eat is one way we can help prevent chronic diseases.
Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world, with 67% of adults and one in four children (24.9%) overweight or obese (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017-18 National Health Survey). Improving our health can start with the choices we make in the supermarket.
How to use the Health Star Rating systemHealth Star Ratings help take the guesswork out of reading labels. You can make healthier choices by using the system to quickly and easily compare the nutritional profile of similar packaged products.
The system is one tool to assist you in making healthier choices. Most products will carry a Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) which provides important information about the contents of the packaged food. The NIP and ingredients list can be used in combination with the Health Star Rating. The system should be used in conjunction with general dietary advice, such as that provided by the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
The Health Star Rating system is not intended to be used on fresh fruit, vegetables or meat; however, some pre-packaged varieties of these may choose to use the system. It is important to consume a wide variety of foods from the Five Food Groups every day.
Health Star Ratings can appear on packs in a number of different ways. Most show just the star rating of the product, or the star rating plus additional nutrient content of the product.
Review of the Health Star Rating systemThe Health Star Rating system is being independently reviewed. The review started in 2017 and reflects the breadth of issues under consideration and the need for detailed data collection and modelling and extensive public consultation.
The final review report is due to Australian and New Zealand Ministers with responsibility for food regulation in mid-2019. Food Ministers will consider the report and respond in late 2019. More information on the review is available from healthstarrating.gov.au