What is the Health Star Rating system?

The Health Star Rating system is a front-of-pack labelling system developed for use in Australia and New Zealand. It helps shoppers to quickly and easily compare the nutritional profile of similar products typically seen in the same part of the shop. The system provides a rating from ½ to 5 stars – the more stars, the healthier the choice.

The Health Star Rating system aims to ‘provide convenient, relevant and readily understood nutrition information and/or guidance on food packs to assist consumers to make informed food purchases and healthier eating choices’.

Why was the Health Star Rating system introduced?

On 9 December 2011, in response to a comprehensive review of food labelling law and policy, the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation (now known as the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation) agreed to the development of an easily understood, interpretive front-of-pack labelling scheme for packaged food products.

Who developed the Health Star Rating system?

The Project Committee established to develop an appropriate front-of-pack labelling system included representatives from the Australian and state and territory governments, industry, public health and consumer groups.

The Project Committee commissioned two working groups to report on technical design and the implementation, evaluation and education aspects of the system.

Information about the process of developing the Health Star Rating system, including committee information and consumer market research reports, is available on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.

Who developed the Health Star Rating Calculator?

The algorithm that drives the Heath Star Rating Calculator was developed by the former Front-of-Pack Labelling Technical Design Working Group, in consultation with Food Standards Australia New Zealand and other technical and nutrition experts.

The Health Star Rating Calculator is a modified version of the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand for the regulation of health claims in Australia and New Zealand, as outlined in Standard 1.2.7 – Nutrition, Health and Related Claims of the Food Standards Code.

On 13 December 2013, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation endorsed the use of the Health Star Rating Calculator as part of the Health Star Rating system.

What monitoring activities are taking place?

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation agreed that the Health Star Rating system would be implemented by industry on a voluntary basis over an initial five years (from 27 June 2014). Monitoring and evaluation of the Health Star Rating system will address three areas of enquiry:

  • Label implementation and consistency with the Health Star Rating system Style Guide;
  • Consumer awareness and ability to use the Health Star Rating system accurately; and
  • Nutrient status of products carrying a Health Star Rating system label.

Further information about monitoring of the system is available on the Monitoring the implementation of the Health Star Rating system page.

What foods can display the Health Star Rating system?

The Health Star Rating system has been optimised for application to packaged processed food products that are made from a combination of ingredients. Consequently, the system was not designed for single ingredient foods, in particular single ingredient foods that cannot be reformulated to achieve a better nutritional profile and Health Star Rating.

As the system has not been designed with single ingredient (e.g. flour) and non-nutritive foods (e.g. vinegar, coffee) in mind, there is no expectation that a Health Star Rating be applied to such products. These products are not excluded from the system, however, and manufacturers can apply the system if they wish to.

Further to this, certain product types are excluded from and should not display the Health Star Rating system:

  • Certain special purpose foods (Part 2.9 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code):
  • - Infant formula products (Standard 2.9.1)
  • - Food for infants (Standard 2.9.2)
  • - Formulated supplementary foods for young children (Standard 2.9.3 Division 3)
  • - Formulated supplementary sports foods (Standard 2.9.4)
  • - Foods for special medical purposes (Standard 2.9.5)
  • Alcoholic beverages (>1.15% alcohol by volume)
  • Alcohol kits
  • Kava

For more guidance on which foods can apply the Health Star rating and different options for displaying the Health Star Rating, see the Guide for Industry and Style Guide.

How do I calculate a Health Star Rating for my product?

The Health Star Rating Calculator has been developed to calculate the Health Star Rating for packaged products. The Calculator can be found here and should be used in conjunction with the Guide for Industry to the Health Star Rating system.

What if I believe my food product should receive a different rating?

If you believe that your Health Star Rating is incorrect, consider the following points in relation to the Calculator:

  • Have you chosen the correct category for the food product?
  • Have all nutrient values been entered correctly?
  • Have you entered values (including zero values) in all of the spreadsheet fields?
  • Has fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes content been calculated correctly?

It is important to keep in mind that Health Star Ratings enable comparisons of similar packaged food products. They are not an indication of the absolute healthiness of a product or how much of each food should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.

The Health Star Rating system does not take into consideration other health effects of particular ingredients, nutrients, products or processing methods.

How do I display the Health Star Rating on my product?

The Health Star Rating system graphic can be displayed in a number of different ways. The full system graphic uses the Health Star Rating itself, ‘risk’ nutrient icons and a ‘positive’ nutrient icon. In certain circumstances, additional interpretive information can also be displayed through % Daily Intake (for energy), and ‘high’ and ‘low’ qualifiers for the nutrients. The hierarchy of elements included in the Style Guide provides further information about how to choose a display best suited to an individual product. Refer to the Style Guide for more information.

The Health Star Rating graphic is too large to fit on my product packaging. What should I do?

The Health Star Rating graphic can be scaled to fit packaging, provided all elements can be clearly read and legislative criteria are met (e.g. compliance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code).

Fewer elements of the Health Star Rating graphic may be displayed, in line with the hierarchy of elements provided in the Health Star Rating Style Guide.

Can I oversticker/use stickers to display the Health Star Rating on packages?

Yes. In some circumstances it may be more practical to 'oversticker' existing product packaging with the Health Star Rating system graphic. This may be a temporary approach until permanent packaging changes can be made or may suit some product categories such as imported products. Stickers should not obscure any mandatory labelling required by the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code. The Health Star Rating graphic should also be displayed consistent with the Health Star Rating Style Guide.

How will we know if the Health Star Rating system is working?

The purpose of the Health Star Rating system is to provide convenient, relevant and readily understood nutrition information and/or guidance on food packages to assist consumers to make informed purchases and healthier food choices. The implementation of the Health Star Rating system is being monitored against these measures. The monitoring page provides more information on regular monitoring activities and outputs.

In addition, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation required that the Health Star Rating system undergo more comprehensive evaluations at two years and five years of implementation.

How do I access the Health Star calculator?

The Health Star Rating Calculator can be used in two different formats: online or via a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

The Health Star Rating system is voluntary. Implementation costs will vary for each organisation depending on factors such as existing contractual arrangements, the timing of existing labelling cycles and whether label design is undertaken in-house or contracted out.

No financial assistance is available to industry to help with the cost of adopting the Health Star Rating system. However, the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat (frontofpack@health.gov.au) can provide guidance on calculating and displaying the Health Star Rating system.

Who is responsible for applying the Health Star Rating system?

Food manufacturers and retailers are responsible for the correct and accurate use of the Health Star Rating system. This includes, but is not limited to, correctly calculating the Health Star Rating, accurately displaying nutrient information, ensuring consistency of information between the Health Star Rating and the Nutrition Information Panel and complying with all relevant legislation and regulations.

How will complaints about the Health Star Rating system be addressed?

The Health Star Rating Advisory Committee (HSRAC) is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Health Star Rating system. The HSRAC has agreed to a process for assessing and resolving disputes. The Dispute Resolution Process can be found on the Applying to Products page.

Who can I contact for more information about the Health Star Rating system?

Questions about calculating a Health Star Rating or other aspects of the Health Star Rating system and its operation can be directed to the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat at frontofpack@health.gov.au.

Currently there are no frequently asked questions.