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Health Star Rating tools now available online

Hon Nikki Kaye

Minister for Food Safety

2 July 2014
Media Statement

Health Star Rating tools now available online

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the launch of an online calculator that will enable food businesses to determine their products’ nutritional value under the Health Star Rating food labelling system.

Cabinet agreed last week to New Zealand adopting the voluntary system that has been developed as part of the Australian and New Zealand Ministers’ Food Forum. Both countries established advisory groups that deliberated for more than two years to work through the key issues and come to final recommendations.

The new system uses a star rating scale of ½ to 5 stars and, except for some exclusions such as alcohol, is able to be used on all packaged food products for retail sale, Ms Kaye says.

“The Health Star Rating calculator will help the food industry determine the star ratings for its products. It takes into account the entire nutritional value of the food, in line with New Zealand’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines.”

Foods with more stars reflect better nutritional value. The number of stars is determined by an algorithm that considers the overall nutritional value of the food.

Also available from today is the style guide for the new system, which provides guidance on the appearance of food labelling.

“Ensuring a uniform look and feel to the labelling system will help consumers quickly identify those products that are part of the system,” Ms Kaye says.

The system has been robustly tested and supported by a New Zealand advisory group made up of respected nutritionists and public health experts.

“New Zealand officials are working with their Australian counterparts on a public information campaign for industry and consumers. They will be working with the NZ advisory group, the Ministry of Health and the Health Promotion Agency on the distribution of information and the public information campaign.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is working with the New Zealand food industry to provide information on the new system.

“A number of companies have already expressed an interest in using the health stars on their packaging,” Ms Kaye says.

“The system has many benefits. Having nutritional information on the front of the pack will make it easier for busy shoppers to make a healthier choice. The overall nutritional rating will also enable shoppers to compare and choose healthier products from within a range. In addition, this system will encourage companies to change their products to be healthier.”

Australia and New Zealand will review the effectiveness of the calculator and style guide in two years. A review in five years will also evaluate the effectiveness of the system and the level of voluntary uptake. MPI will work closely with businesses to encourage industry uptake.

The calculator and style guide are available at: www.mpi.govt.nz/

Media contact: Serene Ambler 027 560 0885

Notes to editors

Has any research been done to support the Health Star Rating system?

The Health Star Rating system is backed by research internationally and in New Zealand.

The evidence supports a labelling system that shows information about the overall nutritional value of food. New Zealand research also shows the Health Star Rating system improves consumers’ ability to identify healthier food choices.

Who are the public health and nutrition experts who have been involved in the development of the Health Star Rating system?

Members of the NZ advisory group were appointed based on their experience, expertise and networks in public health nutrition, academia, and the food industry. For more information about the group, as well as a full list of its membership: www.mpi.govt.nz/

What role did they play?

The NZ advisory group developed a set of principles that were endorsed by the public health and industry members.

Within those principles they recommended a system that provides an assessment of the whole food product rather than individual nutrients.
Other systems, such as the UK Traffic Light and the Industry Dietary Intake Guide (DIG), do not fulfil these key principles.

Was the traffic light system considered?

Yes. However the New Zealand advisory group agreed two key principles about front of pack labelling that the traffic light system does not fulfil:

· That the system should evaluate the whole food and not just individual nutrients. The traffic light system evaluates each nutrient separately and does not give an overall rating to the food.
· That the rating should be based on nutrients that are positive and negative according to New Zealand dietary guidelines. The traffic light system is based only on negative nutrients.
The Health Star Rating fulfils both these requirements and gives consumers a clear indication of the overall nutritional value of food.

The traffic light system gives an interpretive rating per nutrient but does not rate the food as a whole. Under that system the consumer must calculate the balance of the individual nutrient ratings.

Is the Health Star Rating system intended to replace existing information?

The Health Star Rating system provides consumers with more information on which to base their choices. It is not intended to replace existing systems.

Other labelling can be used in conjunction with the Health Star Rating system, including the Heart Tick and the Daily Intake Guide.

What is the role of the Health Star Rating Advisory Committee?

The Health Star Rating Advisory Committee is a Trans-Tasman group that will monitor and evaluate the system as it is implemented. New Zealand is represented on this committee.


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