The Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash, has reinstated a website for the Health Star Rating, after the original was pulled down hours after launching in February.
Fiona Nash's then chief of staff, Alastair Furnival was prompted to resign in February when strong, direct links to food industry lobby groups were revealed – after he had ordered the Health Stars website to be taken down.
Nash has now launched an education campaign and a website for the rating, which she say is the first stage of the campaign which will intensify over coming months as more food products display the healthy star rating.
"The HSR system is voluntary for industry to adopt over the next five years, as agreed by the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in June 2014," Minister Nash said.
“Although to date there are only a few labelled products on the shelves, starting with Monster Muesli, a number of companies have now indicated they will be rolling out the HSR system.
"The HSR system takes into account the four aspects of food – energy; saturated fat; total sugars; and sodium content. Products that are low in saturated fat, sugars, sodium and/or energy will generally have a higher star rating. The healthier the food, the higher the stars.
"We've worked closely with stakeholders on this healthy food choices initiative which has resulted in this voluntary scheme receiving broad support from public health groups, from food companies and from supermarkets.
“This will enable cost effective implementation, and provide time for manufacturers to work on reformulation—to include less saturated fats, sugars or sodium in their products.
Public Health Association CEO Michael Moore welcomed the launch today.
"This is a great day for consumers and families. We thank Minister Nash for her determined work to make this a reality," Moore said.
The CEO of the National Heart Foundation, Mary Barry CEO said: “We congratulate Minister Nash, and welcome the introduction of the stars and are pleased to see the stars on more and more products on our supermarket shelves.
"The Coalition Government recognises the burden of disease associated with poor diet and physical inactivity and the Health Star Rating system is one of a suite of measures to make it easier for people to make healthier food choices,” Senator Nash said.