CHOICE membership

Health star ratings


That would not be the case if everything was measured per 100g, and concentrates would light up the scale in comparison to non-concentrates.


Perhaps for concentrated (that is strictly intended to be diluted with water) then as a star rating it should be shown “When reconstituted” and “If used undiluted” might be the best way to rate it?

I was thinking as examples of what I was writing about condensed and evaporated milk and concentrated fruit juices but I’m sure there are others. Dried peas, dried potato mash, dried fruit might be some of the others to consider for this rating system.


Rating concentrates that have been reconstituted looks good, but would the latter pass the “consumer’s pub test” of meaningfulness? Showing both starts information overload and thus consumer suspicion whether one is a slight of hand.


Don’t readily know how to impose it but maybe having distinct mandatory fonts, colouring, and sizes of the ratings? Or some other combination of placement, size, design and so on? Perhaps as an example red colour star rating for concentrated and a blue for reconstituted/normal.

Ahh sorry meant if they use the rating then the way they display it should be a mandatory way.


Whilst I still think that generally ‘as sold’ is the go, clearly the examples brought up by contributors to this thread demonstrate that it is a bit of a minefield, and whatever system is used, manufacturers will attempt to exploit the system to their advantage.

I admit to not looking at health star ratings at all, but then I don’t buy many process foods.

And when thinking about it earlier, I came to the conclusion that if you consume more than one serving, either in a sitting or in a day, then the stars should either be divided by the number of servings, or multiplied, depending on what it is!
For example, Milo = 1.5*, but 2 servings should be 0.75*, whereas say a 5* carrot (if it had stars) would be worth 10 if you ate 2 :wink:

What it boils down to is that it is exceptionally difficult to cater for the huge range of foods available with just a simple 5* system. Making it more complex is likely to make it more confusing for some, perhaps those in most need of some guidance.


excepting for it is a guide, not mandatory - here it is$File/HSR%20Style%20Guide-v5.pdf


Star rating i think personally does not work many companies will try and work around this to maximize it.I’m sure their are many products out their now currently having a higher star rating than what they really are.The system does not work


Hi all, thank you very much for your thoughts. I attended a health star rating consultation today and was able to reflect a number of your concerns to help bring the consumer lens into the discussion.


Are there plans to provide a summary of main discussion points?


It should be based on the product not as prepared, although personally I do not look at the health star rating and read the ingredients for myself and decide from there but I hardly ever buy packaged foods and would never buy such non foods as Milo anyway


Definitely “as sold”. This is a more accurate reflection of the product. People often vary in the way they prepare or use items so “as prepared” will often be misleading.


I believe star ratings are at the moment completely misleading and not much value to consumers. Stars need to based on the product as it is sold / purchased regardless of what could be added to it later. Also serving sizes need to be realistic. Ie a snickers bar is a serving size as a whole bar not half or a third of one. People rarely eat four squares of a chocolate bar. This needs to be changed as well. Products high in sugar should have a traffic light system making it easy for consumers to choose.


How is a traffic light system more informative than a health star and what triggers red vs yellow vs green? Would that be essentially transposing the health star ratings into 1-3 (or 0-2) stars and altering the format from stars to a light?


For those interested in this subject, tonight on ABC, and afterwards on iView:

Four Corners
Monday 30th April at 8:32 pm (46 minutes)
Tipping The Scales: Sugar, politics & what’s making us fat. Michael Brissenden investigates the power of Big Sugar & its influence on public policy. We reveal the industry’s tactics & the access they enjoy, as doctors warn of an obesity crisis.

Has the Sugar Industry Been Sponsoring 'Fat is Bad' For Their Own Profit?

On our recent trip to Chile, we noticed that they have adopted a system which highlights products which, for example, are high in sugar, salt (sodium), fat and calories…this is an example:

The stop signs indicate that this product is high (alto en) in sugar (azucares), saturated fat (grasas saturadas) and calories (calorias). This provides clear information on the labelling for a consumer to make a decision on whether to buy such products.

If the health stars labelling is fully adopted, it should show similar information in the additional information panel adjacent to the health stars, like this one:

But in reality some products labelled by manufacturers, only the star rating clearly and the other information has been removed from being adjacent to the rating. One has to then search to see where the information is on the packaging. Here is an example where the Star Rating is shown on the front of the packaging and even though there is sufficient room to fit the additional information, it is located, well, I don’t know where…


(Left side)

(Right Side)




If the full labelling is used, then it isn’t an issue. If part labelling like that shown above is adopted as an option, one might find it very difficult to determine what the product is high or low in, and if it suits their dietary requirements.


Per the style guide, linked a few posts above, the health stars are mandatory but the ‘elements’ are optional.


Hi @phb, we’re waiting for the formal summary from the consultations but you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the food industry were strongly pushing for an option that wouldn’t change the rules but provide greater guidance for food companies. Health and consumer groups were calling for a change of the rules so that health stars are calculated on the product as-sold except for where a product is hydrated with water or drained. I’ll keep this thread in the loop on any movements but unfortunately we probably won’t see a formal change announced until end of this year.


Chart of the day: Food manufacturers are gaming the Health Star Rating system

In case you thought the system was not working, you were right.


The full study paper can be found here:


Agree this is a concern and we will be raising this as part of our submissions to the five year review.

We did receive good news this week. Ministers have decided to change the ‘as-prepared’ rules to ensure that products like Milo can’t claim a star rating based on being mixed with other ingredients;

Thanks to everyone who got involved and provided feedback to us on this issue.