Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


New Health Star Rating nutrition label may not be best


New Health Star Rating nutrition label may not be best


University of Otago researchers are questioning the likely effectiveness of new Health Star Rating nutrition labels that may soon be seen on the front of food packages in New Zealand and Australia.

While interpretive nutrition labels are an improvement on the current Nutrition Information Panel, a recent study suggests the Health Star Rating label may not be the best option for consumers.

University of Otago researcher Dr Ninya Maubach led a study that compared three front-of-pack nutrition labels –Star Ratings, Daily Intake Guides, and Multiple Traffic Light labels – as well as the back-of-pack Nutrition Information Panel. The research examined consumers’ preferences for fruit mueslis with different nutritional profiles in an experiment completed by over 750 New Zealanders last year.

The results show that although consumers made similar choices towards the healthiest muesli option when it featured either the Star Rating or Multiple Traffic Light labels, the Multiple Traffic Light label better helped consumers identify and avoid less healthy mueslis. Participants also rated the healthiness of the options tested, and were significantly better able to differentiate between their nutrition profiles when these featured colour-coded traffic lights.

“These findings show most people can identify healthy products with either the stars or traffic light labels. However a traffic light label appears much more likely to help people distinguish less healthy choices. If we want to use labels to reduce obesity, we need a label that promotes quick identification of unhealthy products,” said Dr Maubach.

The newly proposed Health Star Rating (HSR) label was developed by representatives from the Australian food and beverage industries, Government, health and consumer agencies. It is similar to the star label format tested in this study, which was designed following guidelines proposed by a New Zealand working group in November 2012.

These star rating labels’ origins lie in the previous Australian government’s decision to reject traffic light labelling, circumstances described by Dr Maubach as deeply ironic: “Politicians rejected an expert panel’s recommendation to support the Multiple Traffic Light format on grounds of insufficient evidence, despite many published studies demonstrating its effectiveness, yet there is no peer-reviewed research into this new format.”

The initial HSR proposal faced stern criticism from the Australian Food and Grocery Council for ‘failing to accommodate the AFGC’s existing Daily Intake Guide.’ The updated guidelines allow for ongoing use of the Daily Intake Guides, which are printed on thousands of products. However, Dr Maubach’s study confirms earlier findings that the industry-developed Daily Intake Guide is of no more help to consumers than the existing Nutrition Information Panel.

“The Daily Intake Guide is simply not a helpful format and policy makers need to introduce a label that consumers will find meaningful,” says Dr Maubach.

Dr Maubach also calls on the Government to make interpretive front-of-pack nutrition labels mandatory, rather letting companies opt-in.

“A light-touch regulatory approach that relies on voluntary action is not in consumers’ best interests. All packaged foods should feature the same nutrition labels so shoppers have a fair chance to understand foods’ nutritional merits.”

“A mish-mash of Health Star Ratings, Daily Intake Guides and no labels at all will only exacerbate the confusion we know exists and do little to promote healthier food choices.”

Co-researchers include Professor Janet Hoek and Dr Damien Mather, also from Otago’s Department of Marketing. The research has been peer reviewed by the international journal Appetite, and the article is currently being finalised.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On Gaza And Burning The Israeli Flag

One of the selling points in New Zealand’s campaign for a temporary seat on the Security Council is that we have a pluckily independent voice to offer on international conflicts.

This image is not entirely self-delusional. When we did occupy a temporary UN Security Council seat in the 1990s, New Zealand was forthright about the need for the international community to actively respond to the Rwanda genocide. On April 14, 1994, New Zealand, Nigeria and the Czech Republic were the only nations to call for a forceful UN intervention to halt the killings. It was a proud moment in the diplomatic record of the Bolger government.

What then, is the current National government doing with respect to the slaughter in Gaza? More>>

 

Parliament Today:

TAIC Report: Urgent Recommendations After Melling Rail Accident

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has made four urgent recommendations to KiwiRail following the accident two months ago (27 May) when a Matangi passenger train collided with a stop block at Melling Station, Lower Hutt. More>>

ALSO:

Red Tape: Local Regulations Go Under Microscope

The Government says it is accepting nearly all of the recommendations the Productivity Commission has made on ways to improve local regulations. More>>

ALSO:

Spending Questions: Claudette Hauiti To Step Aside At Election

National Party President Peter Goodfellow confirms that he has received notification from List MP Claudette Hauiti that she plans to step aside at the 20 September election. More>>

ALSO:

EPA: Board Of Inquiry Rejects Basin Flyover By Majority Of 3 To 1

The independent Board of Inquiry delegated to decide on the Basin Bridge Proposal has, by a majority decision (3 to 1), cancelled the Transport Agency’s Notice of Requirement and declined its resource consent applications for the construction, operation and maintenance of a flyover on State Highway 1 in Wellington City... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Non-Apology To Tania Billingsley

The refusal by Prime Minister John Key to issue a personal apology to Tania Billingsley has been accompanied by an array of excuses... Yesterday though, Key’s choice of words indicated that an apology was the last thing on his mind. More>>

ALSO:

Conventions: Winston Peters On The Nation

Winston Peters opens door to standing in East Coast Bays electorate, says it's an "exciting point" and he's thinking about it. "I’ve had a whole lot of people writing to me and calling up and saying ‘why don’t you have a go in East Coast Bays’." More>>

ALSO:

Waitangi Tribunal: Report On The MV Rena

In its interim report, the Waitangi Tribunal has found that the Crown’s conduct in response to the grounding of the MV Rena on Otaiti (Astrolabe) reef breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. More>>

ALSO:

Gaza: Wellington Protest For Palestine Calls For End To Bombing

Around 300 people gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Wellington on Friday to protest Israel’s occupation of Palestine. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Failure To Prosecute The GCSB

So one hand of the state – the Independent Police Conduct Authority – has now washed the hands of its brother agencies, and declared that all hands are clean. Case closed. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news