FGC has responded to claims by researchers that half of packaged food on supermarket shelves is unhealthy and that Health Stars should be mandatory as a result.

Katherine Rich says supermarkets carry many thousands of options, and it depends entirely on what people choose to put into their trollies.

“Everyone knows biscuits, chocolate and ice cream are all treats. People mostly buy fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce from supermarkets.

“The study’s classification of ‘ultra-processed’ includes important parts of the diet such as bread and cereals.”

On the Health Star Rating system, she says FGC actively promotes the roll-out of the New Zealand and Australian governments’ scheme “to help people make healthier choices at the supermarket”.

“The majority of our members have put it in place. Last December we made a number of suggestions to Ministers about how industry could work with MPI to encourage greater uptake of Health Star Rating labels.”

This was part of the industry’s work with the Government on the Food Industry Taskforce, formed to tackle obesity, and had also reported back on what industry was doing to help people reduce the amount of sugar, fat, and salt in their diets.

The industry is also waiting for the final report on the five-year review of the Health Star Rating system.

In response to the study – called the New Zealand State of the Food Supply – Health Minister David Clark said reformulation of processed food and drink “and an improved food labelling system are key strands” of the work being done by the taskforce.