What is a Health Star Rating?
The Health Star Rating is a front-of-pack labelling system that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It provides a quick, easy, standard way to compare similar packaged foods. The more stars, the healthier the choice.
Why do we need a Health Star Rating?
As a nation, our waistlines are growing. Today, Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world with 63% of adults and one in four children being overweight or obese (reference: OECD June 2014 and Australian Health Survey 11/12).
Most products carry a Nutrition Information Panel which provides important information about the contents of the food. But as shoppers we are busy, so the Health Star Rating provides an easy way to compare similar packaged food and helps you make healthier choices.
Choosing foods that are higher in positive nutrients and lower in risk nutrients that are linked to obesity and diet-related chronic diseases; (saturated fat, sodium (salt), sugars and energy), will help contribute to a balanced diet and lead to better health.
Who developed the Health Star Rating system?
The Health Star Rating system was developed by the Australian, state and territory governments in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups. View the Acknowledgements page.
The development of the Health Star Rating system has been jointly funded by Australian, state and territory governments. It is being implemented from June 2014 on a voluntary basis by the food industry over the next five years, with a review of progress after two years and a formal review at five years.
Who calculates the Health Star Ratings?
The number of stars is determined using a calculator designed to assess positive and risk nutrients in food (The Health Star Rating Calculator). The algorithm that drives the calculator was developed in consultation with Food Standards Australia New Zealand and other technical and nutrition experts.
Food manufacturers and retailers are responsible for the correct and accurate use of the Health Star Rating system. This includes correctly calculating the Health Star Rating, accurately displaying nutrient information, ensuring consistency of information between the Health Star Rating and the Nutrition Information Panel, and complying with all relevant legislation and regulations.
Where will you see the Health Star Rating?
Keep an eye out for the Health Star Rating on supermarket shelves. Since 2014, food manufacturers and retailers have been voluntarily implementing the Health Star Rating system. Displayed on the front of food packages the star rating helps you to compare similar products. Some products such as confectionery and beverages may display the energy icon only – allowing you to compare the energy content of different products. Look for lower energy options for treat foods.
Health Star Ratings can appear on packs in two general ways. The first shows just the star rating of the product; the second can show the star rating plus additional specific nutrient content of the product.
What are the stars based on?
Under the system, packaged foods are given a star rating based on their nutritional profile.
- Energy (kilojoules).
- Risk nutrients – saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugars.
- Positive nutrients – dietary fibre, protein and the proportion of fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content.
Health Star Ratings – range from ½ a star to 5 stars. Compare similar packaged foods – the more stars, the healthier the choice.
Risk Nutrients – saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugars. These are linked to increased rates of obesity and chronic disease if consumed in excess of recommended guidelines.
Positive Nutrients – such as dietary fibre, protein, calcium, or certain vitamins and minerals.
Health Star Ratings for products within a food category can vary significantly depending on the individual nutrient profile of each product. For more information on how nutrient content determines the Health Star Rating visit our consumer FAQs.
What is the information next to the star rating?
The star ratings for all products are calculated based on a consistent measure of 100g or 100mL of a product. This means that the star ratings of similar products can be compared at-a-glance. In addition to the stars, nutrient content of the food may be shown directly below or to the side of the rating. This shows the quantity of nutrients, specifically energy (kilojoules) saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugars that are in the product either per 100g, 100mL for liquids or per pack for single serve foods or per serve/portion (as specified).
The label may also include one positive nutrient, such as protein, dietary fibre, certain vitamins or minerals. These nutrients play an important part in a balanced diet.
The Health Star Rating system is designed to provide key information that allows consumers to make at-a-glance comparisons of products within the same category. Further nutrient information is also available in the Nutrition Information Panel on food packaging.
Is the Health Star Rating for the whole pack or per serve?
To ensure an easy and standard comparison, the number of health stars in the rating is calculated based on 100g or 100mL of a product.
The nutrient information icons (energy, saturated fat, sugars and sodium) may be presented as per 100g, 100mL, or ‘per pack’ where the content of the pack constitutes a single serve (for example, a ready to eat meal for one person). Terms such as ‘per 600mL bottle’ may also be used in some circumstances. In any case, the reference will be specified on the Health Star Rating label.
Will all food products display the Health Star Rating label?
The Health Star Rating system is voluntary and will only appear on packaged food products at the discretion of food manufacturers and retailers (such as supermarkets). There are some food products which are not expected to display the Health Star Rating, which include:
- fresh unpackaged food (such as fresh fruit and vegetables);
- alcoholic beverages;
- formulated products for infants and young children;
- non-nutritive condiments (such as vinegar, herbs and spices);
- non-nutritive foods (such as tea, coffee);
- single ingredient foods not intended to be eaten on their own (such as flour); and
- foods where a Nutrition Information Panel is not required.
Guide for Industry
The Guide for Industry to the Health Star Rating Calculator provides detailed information about how the Health Star Rating is calculated, including example calculations.
This document contains important information that will allow the Health Star Rating to be calculated correctly, and should be read before using the Health Star Rating Calculator.
Health Star Rating Calculator
The Health Star Rating Calculator allows you to enter the specific nutritional information of your products to calculate the star rating. The Health Star Rating Calculator should be used in conjunction with the Guide for Industry to the Health Star Rating Calculator.
Health Star Rating system Style Guide
The Health Star Rating system Style Guide provides guidance for the application of the Health Star Rating system on food packages.
The purpose of the Health Star Rating system is to provide convenient, relevant and readily understood nutrition information and/or guidance on packaged food to assist consumers to make informed purchases and healthier food choices. Further information about the scope of the Health Star Rating system is included in the Style Guide.
The Health Star Rating system comprises three principle elements:
- Health Star Rating
- Energy declaration
- Nutrient content declarations
The Style Guide provides examples of how these three elements can be used on food product packages, including specifications for the preferred graphic.
Use of the Style Guide will allow the Health Star Rating system to be implemented consistently. Questions about the use of the Style Guide and the Health Star Rating graphic on food product packaging can be directed to the independent Secretariat that is providing support to the implementation. Contact the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat
The Health Star Rating Advisory Committee (HSRAC) is responsible for overseeing the implementation and evaluation of the Health Star Rating system. This includes the assessment of potential anomalies that may be identified within the Health Star Rating Calculator. The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation has agreed to a process for the HSRAC to assess potential anomalies.
This version of the ‘Process for assessing a potential anomaly’ (version 3) incorporates amendments to remove references to the Front-of-Pack Labelling Steering Committee and was uploaded on 6 May 2016.
A submission form to assist in the provision of information to the HSRAC to assess a potential anomaly within the Health Star Rating Calculator is available. Complete the form and submit it to the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat. Contact the Secretariat.
A register of potential anomalies received to date is available.
Dispute Resolution Process
The Health Star Rating Advisory Committee has agreed to a process for assessing and resolving disputes. This process will address dispute notices related to the Health Star Rating system in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner. This process is separate to the process for assessing potential anomalies within the Health Star Rating Calculator. If you wish to submit a dispute notice or lodge a review request, please use the appropriate form included in the appendices of the Dispute Resolution Process.
Research on the Health Star Rating system
In addition to monitoring, the five year review and evaluation of social marketing campaigns, much external research on the HSR system (that is, not commissioned by HSR governance bodies or administrators) is also being conducted. Below is a register of published papers and reports of which we are aware: