The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Obesity Policy Coalition have called on Ministers at the Food Ministers' Forum tomorrow to support the Health Star Rating system and to re-establish the website that facilitates the new Health Star Rating on packaged food.
Michael Moore, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PHAA (who was also co-chair of the Technical Design Working Group developing the rating system) said, "There is now an opportunity for Industry to provide clear information to consumers on the nutritional content of the food that they purchase and consume.
"Since the demise of the Health Star Rating website there have been ongoing negotiations to ensure that the system is as user friendly for industry as possible. Health and consumer groups have agreed that additional information can go on the package such as the Heart Foundation Tick or the industry's own Daily Intake Guide. Modification of the graphic to make it easier to use on a range of packets has also been agreed."
Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) and a member of the Project Committee, said: "Recent figures show that poor diet is now the greatest risk for the burden of death and disease in Australia, followed by overweight and obesity. Now is the time to prioritise empowering Australians with readily understandable information which enables them to cut through the marketing spin and make informed, healthy food choices."
Professor Heather Yeatman, President of the PHAA, who is also a senior academic in public health nutrition at the University of Wollongong - added, "This is a major step toward making healthy choices the easy choices. It is so straightforward - the more stars the healthier the food. It is a plus for shoppers and an incentive for industry to promote healthy food products."
"PHAA and the OPC now call on all sectors of the food industry to commit to implement the Health Star System on their products as quickly as possible. Given that obesity and diet are the leading contributors to the burden of disease in Australia including type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular disease there is no time to waste. The system has been over two and a half years in the making - improving consumers' choices will depend on how quickly industry will use it," said Professor Yeatman.
Jane Martin concluded, "Reinstating the Health Star Rating website will make it easier for industry to comply with the new system. The Health Star Rating scheme will not solve all of our country's nutritional issues; we need a comprehensive approach with a range of strategies. However, allowing people to easily judge the healthiness of their food is certainly an important step in the right direction."
1 The Australian and New Zealand Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation