Food and health ministers from federal, state and territory governments have signed off on the Health Star Rating Scheme and consumer watchdog Choice, is calling on food manufacturers to start rolling out the rating across their product lines.
Choice CEO Alan Kirkland says that the scheme is a win for consumers and hopes that it will provide a strong incentive to food manufacturers to improve the nutritional profile of their products.
“We know that many shoppers are confused and frustrated by the current state of food labelling, in which the complex, numerical information on the back of packs is rendered even more confusing on those products which carry the food industry’s voluntary Daily Intake Guide percentages,” says Kirkland.
“Now that ministers have given the final sign off to the Health Star Rating Scheme, responsibility shifts to food manufacturers to start rolling out the star ratings on their product ranges. There is a great PR opportunity waiting for the early adopters, as we’ve seen with Monster Health Food Co which rolled out the first star rating in April.
The voluntary scheme was developed to replace the current daily intake guide and was initially approved by food and health ministers in June last year.
The scheme’s accompanying website was launched in February this year but taken down only 12 hours after it went live.
Health department officials initially claimed that the website was a ‘draft’ and that it was ‘made live inadvertently’, however it was later revealed that Nash’s chief of staff, Alastair Furnival – who is a co-owner of his wife’s lobbying firm Australian Public Affairs – ordered health officials to pull the site down.
The move attracted widespread criticism from labor senators including Penny Wong, and health advocates, many of which sight Furnival’s involvement in lobbying firms as a significant conflict of interest.