The Health Star Rating (HSR) System rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged foods and assigns an interpretive rating from 0.5 to 5 stars – the higher the stars, the healthier the product. The objective is to “provide convenient, relevant and readily understood nutrition information and/or guidance on food packs to assist consumers to make informed food purchases and healthier eating choices”.
The Five Year Review examined the impact of the System, against its specific objectives. In summary, the HSR System is performing well:
- Studies consistently show that the System is well aligned with Dietary Guidelines and effectively directs consumers towards foods lower in energy, saturated fats, sugars and sodium.
- The HSR is being displayed on approximately one-third of packaged foods in Australian and New Zealand supermarkets, with uptake steadily increasing since implementation.
- Most Australian and New Zealand consumers view the HSR System as easy to understand and use and feel that it makes it easier to decide which packaged foods are healthier.
- In Australia, 23% of surveyed consumers were influenced by the HSR to change their purchasing behaviour and purchase a product with more stars. In New Zealand, 28% of surveyed consumers used the HSR to help choose a product, with the vast majority choosing the product with more stars.
- The HSR System is also encouraging positive reformulation of foods, with New Zealand research showing that 79% of products displaying the HSR had reformulated since 2014. In Australia, a study found that products displaying the HSR had made significant reductions in energy and saturated fat over the four years since the System was introduced, compared to those not displaying the HSR.
There is, however, an opportunity to continue to improve the System. A package of changes is therefore recommended to:
- Improve the operation of the HSR Calculator that drives the attribution of stars.
- Drive further uptake of the HSR by industry.
- Improve the management and monitoring of the HSR System.