Choice urges food ministers to support Health Star Rating system

Consumer watchdog Choice has released new research which has found that a clear majority of Australians are in favour of the new Health Star Rating scheme as opposed to the industry developed, front-of-pack labelling system.

According to Choice, the food industry has been pushing to retain its 'outdated' Daily Intake Guide labelling system, however the watchdog’s research shows that 62 percent of Australians have either never heard of the Daily Intake Guide, or seldom use it when making purchase decisions.

In contrast, the new Health Star Rating system has been developed by consumer and public health groups and features critical details about salt, sugar and saturated fat as well as a rating out of five stars – a more ‘accurate and trustworthy’ form of front-of-pack labelling according to the group.

Australia’s food and health ministers are meeting today to discuss food labelling and Choice CEO, Alan Kirkland is urging the nation’s food and health ministers to take the group’s recent findings into account.

“Australians are saying very clearly that they want better food labels…” says Kirkland.
 
“Despite the industry pushing its flawed Daily Intake Guide labels onto thousands of food products over the last seven years, it is failing to give shoppers the information they want.”
 
“Along with Choice and public health groups, the majority of Australians support replacing the industry scheme with new Health Star Ratings, even though many would have only seen it for the first time through this research.”

 Key findings from the research include:

  • 62% of Australians have either never heard of the food industry’s Daily Intake Guide, or at best rarely use it to choose food products. This is despite the system being in the market for seven years and according to industry, currently featuring on 7200 products on supermarket shelves.
  • When shown an image of the proposed Health Star Rating scheme, 62% of respondents said they would support the new scheme replacing the existing Daily Intake Guide. 
  • When asked who they would most trust to develop a nutrition labelling, 60% of respondents nominated public health and consumer groups, compared to only 16% nominating industry.

“Choice believes consumers should be free to buy and eat whatever they want – but if they are looking for a healthy option, this should be easy to find through clear, accurate and trustworthy information in an easy-to-understand format, on the front of packs,” says Kirkland.
 
“On the question of who to trust, it is clear that consumers are overwhelmingly in favour of a labelling system developed by consumer and public health groups over industry.”

 

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