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The George Institute welcomes improvements to the Health Star Rating system

Media release: 
09/08/2018

The George Institute welcomes the closure of the ‘as prepared’ loophole as a step forward in ensuring healthier food choices for all Australians. 

Ms Alexandra Jones, Research Fellow in the Food Policy Division at The George Institute for Global Health said the announcement is a huge step forward in ensuring the system achieves its public health goals. 

“The resolution of the loophole follows a lengthy process of public consultation and stakeholder workshops. Consumer trust is paramount to Health Stars working, so it’s great to see this small but significant loophole resolved. First and foremost Health Stars must work for consumers, not food companies.” 

“The loophole in the voluntary system has allowed manufacturers to achieve a higher Health Star Rating based on how the manufacturer proposes the item should be prepared and consumed.”

“By closing the loophole, manufacturers will now have to present the rating based on the nutritional content of the item itself, allowing consumers to make better informed choices based on clearer labelling.”

“The ‘as prepared’ loophole allowed products like Milo to receive a 4.5 star rating owing to the manufacturer suggestion to prepare the drink with three teaspoons of Milo and a cup of skim milk. While the decision was pending, Nestle voluntarily elected to remove the label.”

“The loophole has led to widespread public critique of the rating system and erosion of consumer confidence, ultimately resulting in agreement by the Health Star Rating Advisory Committee to address the issue as a matter of priority.”

For the vast majority of products, Health Stars will now have to be calculated and displayed on the basis of the product as it appears on the shelf ‘as sold’. Specific exemptions will apply for products which must be rehydrated with water, diluted with water, drained of water or drained of brine. 

This decision will be implemented alongside and in the context of the recommendations of the five year review.