The Food & Grocery Council is a strong advocate for and a key player in the Health Star Rating system - the front of pack labelling system designed to help shoppers make quicker and easier healthier food choices by comparing products in the same category.
HSR uses a star rating scale of half a star to 5 stars by rating the overall nutrition content and healthiness of packaged foods.
FGC was part of a group – including food safety officials, public health representatives, and consumer groups – that developed and tested the voluntary trans-Tasman system before it was introduced in 2014.
FGC continues to monitor industry uptake of member companies and reports on uptake each quarter to the Food Safety division of the Ministry for Primary Industries, which monitors the New Zealand scheme.
FGC is also part of the five-year review of the system, making a submission to the Health Star Rating Advisory Committee, Canberra, Australia.
The submission said that in general the scoring system works well, uptake remains strong and positive, awareness continues to increase, and utility appears to also be increasing.
“There are some areas that are worth investigating such as some calcium/dairy anomalies and the differential nutritional value from brown versus white rice and wholegrains. NZFGC is also confident that the Technical Advisory Group charged with reviewing the operation of the system’s algorithm and assisted with relevant information will be able to model potential changes in these areas.
“Having said that, we are concerned that any changes are justified by evidence, carefully modelled, and minimised as to the impact on any existing products carrying HSR. Maintaining alignment with the New Zealand Nutrition and Activity Guidelines and with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code must remain a high priority for the integrity of the system and its use by industry.”
As at 31 December 2018, more than 4000 products in supermarkets had Health Stars on their labels. Some 2385 of those were from FGC-member companies, while the remainder were the home brands of both Foodstuffs and Countdown, and non-FGC members.
- For more on the Health Star Rating scheme, go to the Healthier NZers section of this website.
- The full submission to the five-year review is in the Submissions section