5 Stars for health?

Are 5 stars the solution to our problems? Emma dishes on why the Health Star Rating System is making us fatter and more confused than ever.

The One Line Rule VS The Health Star Rating System

I find myself in supermarkets constantly checking nutrition panels – just one line Sugars! If you buy The Muesli and ever read the back of the pack you’ll understand.

I absolutely believe that if we all did nothing more complicated than this, society would be much healthier and much slimmer.

Let’s make a couple of comparisons!

The Health Star Rating System – and I quote:

“The HSR system aims to promote healthy food habits by educating consumers on the nutritional value of similar products. The system awards products anywhere from half a star to five stars based on the nutritional profile of the product. The HSR is calculated using an algorithm, which takes into account nutrients such as dietary fibre, protein, energy and saturated fat. Put simply, the more stars a product has the healthier it is. The HSR system is being implemented on a number of products across supermarket shelves.”


A couple of things….

‘takes into account nutrients such as dietary fibre, protein, energy and saturated fat’ – last I heard ‘energy’ wasn’t a nutrient. Not sugar?

‘An algorithm’? We’re getting away from simple here, though giving the poor confused consumer a simple guide seems to be the aim. After all, the very helpful and simple labelling message – FAT FREE – hasn’t caused much damage!

But I digress and sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

Health is a key word here, so let’s compare some ‘similar products’:

I defy anyone to find a healthier, more natural product with a better nutritional profile than that of The Muesli.

And yet a product with nearly ¼ sugar and a whole lot of highly processed carbohydrates gets 4 stars while The Muesli less than 2% sugar and only natural ingredients, calculates out to 2.5.

The simple reason – Saturated Fats.   Where those fats come from, their source (raw nuts, seeds & coconut) is not taken into account by that Health Star Rating System ‘algorithm’.

Food labelling must be brought under control. Consumers must be given the ability to understand what they are looking for and what they are buying. The confusion will not stop with the Health Star Rating System it will only be exacerbated.

On the other hand, we must start somewhere. To follow the simplest of guidelines – read one line on a nutrition panel and keep it under 5% – is surely achievable by most – from 7 years up. Minimising the intake of Sugar from anything in a packet, jar or bottle, can not harm anyone and may just end up having a massive impact on the health and well being of the nation! Including its economy!


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