Sanitarium adopts new health star ratings

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Berkeley Vale, New South Wales

Consumers across Australia will have access to clearer, more convenient nutrition information to help support informed food purchases, following the introduction of Health Star Rating labelling on Sanitarium products from November.

The launch of Health Star Ratings is a big consumer win and a positive step forward for the health of the nation.

Endorsed by the State and Federal Governments in June, the Health Star Rating system scores products on a scale of 0.5 to five stars based on nutrient and whole food content, and is strongly aligned with the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Sanitarium Australia general manager Todd Saunders said Sanitarium was one of the first companies to support the voluntary Health Star Rating labelling system and is proud to be taking a leading role in implementing the important national initiative.

“Sanitarium is committed to the health and wellbeing of all Australians, and we want to ensure the nutritional information on our products is transparent and easy to understand. The Health Star Rating system is an effective way to deliver this and we see the use of a consumer-friendly visual guide on packs as a great way to empower shoppers to make healthy food choices. 

“The launch of Health Star Ratings is a big consumer win and a positive step forward for the health of the nation,” he said.

Mr Saunders said market-leading offerings UP&GO, which scored four and a half stars, and Weet-Bix, which was awarded five stars, will hit shelves with new front of pack labelling in November and December respectively, with more products set to roll out until mid-2015. 

Dr Neal Blewett, former Australian Health Minister and chair of the 2011 Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy, said he welcomed the decision by Sanitarium to adopt the Health Star Rating on its labels.

“This initiative will directly benefit consumers by making the challenge of seeking healthy food choices simpler and therefore easier. I hope that other food companies will follow Sanitarium’s example so that the Health Star Rating system ultimately becomes universal on all packaged foods.”

Trish Guy, Australian Practising Dietitian and nutritionist at Sanitarium, said the Health Star Rating system makes interpreting the nutritional credentials of a product simpler.

“Nutrition labelling can be difficult to understand and contextualise for many people, so the star system, which is backed by considerable research, provides an easy, reliable reference that consumers can use when selecting products,” she said.

“Health Star Ratings are determined by a specific calculation based on the amount of energy, saturated fat, sugars, sodium, protein and fibre in a product, along with values for the fruit, vegetable, nuts and legumes content. I’d encourage everyone to check and compare product ratings, and go for a high rating option as this will reflect a better nutritional choice.”

The development of the Health Star Rating system was coordinated by the Commonwealth Department of Health, working with consumer and public health groups and industry representatives, including Sanitarium.

The Health Star Ratings system has already been implemented in New Zealand, with Weet-Bix the first product to adopt the new labels. In October, New Zealand Food & Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said “Sanitarium is to be congratulated” for spearheading the new initiative.

“Weet-Bix is one of New Zealand’s most recognised and favourite brands, so it’s significant that the company chose that from its big product range to launch the system in this country,” said Mrs Rich.

Consumers can find Health Star Ratings for Sanitarium products on the Sanitarium website, along with further information on the rating system, visit <www.sanitarium.com.au/health-and-wellbeing/health-star-rating>.