Health Star Ratings - Vegetables

The latest TV info / advertisements for Health Stars says that all fresh fruit and vegetables automatically have a 5 Star rating.

However, frozen vegetables, because they are packaged, have to go through the Calculator, and some packaged fresh veg is appearing with Stars too.

Fresh green beans (which may be a week old) are automatically 5, yet frozen are 4.5. Working through the calculator, it appears the lower kj of some vegetables is reducing their Star rating. One way to increase the HS rating is to package with another vegetable. Frozen beans & peas mix is 5. Green beans = 100kj, Green peas = 352kj

Also scoring 4.5 is a frozen oven potato chip with 17% ‘additives’ - oil, flavourings, gums, salt etc. I wouldn’t consider that to be in the same league as Green beans.

Surely the system can be changed to allow 100% vegetable to be 5, fresh, frozen or packaged. I note that AUSVEG has also protested this anomaly.

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I can see why frozen fruits and vegetables may need to be assessed under the healthy stars, where fresh is automatically given 5 stars.

Frozen fruit and vegetables have been processed in some form, from minimal processing such as cutting ans trimming and freezing, to addition of flavours, salts, anti-binding/sticking agents etc. I suppose the concern is that if all fruit and vegetables whether fresh or frozen is automatically given 5 stars, there would be crafty marketing teams who would use this to their marketing advantage even if the final product was not five stars…Nestle/Milo example is one where any potential loophole is exploited.

The purpose of the current healthy star rating is for (processed) packaged foods to be assessed and labelled accordingly. Under this definition, only those products which have been packaged need healthy stars to be reported.

I know there has been discussion on including loose fresh fruit, vegetables and meats…I am not sure if this has been adopted yet as the Healthy Star website indicates that it may not be the case. On 22 May 2019 It states:

Do unpackaged products, like fresh fruit and vegetables or meat, have a Health Star Rating?

The focus of the Health Star Rating system is processed packaged products. Fresh, healthy foods – like fruits and vegetables or lean meats – are a vital part of a nutritious diet. However, as they are often not packaged, they generally won’t have a Health Star Rating applied.

Some companies have chosen to use the Health Star Rating on packaged varieties of healthy foods, such as canned, dried and frozen fruit and vegetables, which can play an important role in the diet where fresh is not an option.

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What I am comparing here is 100% fresh vegetables, with 100% frozen vegetables (no additives). Not frozen vegetables with sauces, oil, spices, etc.

Seems to me a nutrition panel is a detriment for vegetables. Fresh, loose or packaged (with no nutrition panel eg 500g Green Beans) is 5. Frozen they are 4.5. Yet snap frozen on the day of harvest retains more nutrients.

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It could be argued that they aren’t the same as fresh, because most frozen has been trimmed (first level of processing) before freezing. There is a chance that the inside or stubs where trimming has occurred results in oxidisation and there loss of nutrition (or increase in some values such as fruits if extraneous parts of the fruit are removed during pre-freezing processing.

I don’t disagree that the frozen may still be fresher nutritionally than the fresh ones, but as they have been processed in some way they could have been altered.

Are we splitting hairs here?

There are some contradictions in the science worth consideration.

Fresh vs Fresh
How do we compare fresh picked green peas in a pod with green string beans They have significantly different levels of nutrition. One is arguably superior. Why should they have the same health start rating?

How do we assess fresh fruit given some can be consumed with or without the skin on? Apples and pears are a great contrast. The same for potatoes and root vegetables. Skin on or off?

According to one source green peas are as high in calories and carbs as sweet corn. Both are many times higher than green beans.
If you are looking for one of the kings of calories, carbs and fat in the vegetable world it might be wise to never eat garlic. It beats avocado hands down for carbs, although avos rule when you measure fat.

In saying this it is also important to accept that the vitamins and mineral benefits vary significantly across all vegetables and fruits. It requires a a variety to meet good levels of nutrition.

Frozen vs Fresh
Handling and basic processing of fresh before freezing might change the product a little. Given there is a range of variation in nutrition value between different varieties of fresh, natural variation due to growing conditions, and losses in fresh with age and storage.

It would seem reasonable to accept that any differences in frozen natural product are no different to the range of variation likely to be found in fresh store produce?

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