Junk food is a term applied to foods and drinks that are high in kilojoules and have added saturated fat, sugars and salt.
There has been a lot of talk in the media about the new voluntary food labelling system – the Health Star Rating, some positive, some not so positive.
A simple food labelling system plays a crucial role in helping people identify healthier options help reduce obesity and chronic disease rates, including cancer.
Food companies love to put all kinds of marketing claims on their products to appeal to the customer, however this can be very confusing and hard to decipher. The nutrition information panels on the back or side of the pack can be complex to read and understand; and time-consuming during your weekly shop. The Health Star Rating is an easy way to compare similar products.
How does the Health Star Rating work?
The Health Star Rating system was introduced by the State and Federal Governments in June 2014. It was reviewed in 2020 and some changes made to improve it. It is being used voluntarily by the food industry in both Australia and New Zealand.
The star ratings are designed to provide shoppers with convenient and easy-to-understand nutrition information on the front of packaged food. The system rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ star to 5 stars, with more stars representing the healthier option.
Let’s take muesli bars as an example. It is easy to think that a muesli bar is a fairly healthy lunch box snack, however not all muesli bars are created equal. Many are packed full of sugar and have minimal nutrients – so look out for 3½ or more stars to know you’re choosing a healthier option.
Health Star Ratings allow shoppers to compare packaged products within a food category and choose healthier options. You won’t find any stars on fresh fruit or vegetables as they are generally not packaged, however they would automatically get five stars from us! When using the Health Star Rating to compare packaged items, still watch portion sizes and remember a healthy, balanced diet consists mainly of minimally processed food.
For more information, visit www.healthstarrating.gov.au