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Should fast food receive healthy star rating?

July 7, 2015

Public health researchers are calling for the new Health Star Rating system to apply to fast food outlets as a way to better inform consumers of the nutritional facts surrounding exactly what they’re eating.

The Health Star Rating scheme is a labelling system that rates the overall nutritional information of packaged foods. The ratings vary from ½ a star to 5 stars and are designed to be an easy to understand and consistent way for consumers to compare foods.

NSW food industry review

The NSW government is currently in the process of evaluating the regulations regarding food industries, which has opened up an opportunity for interested parties to provide their opinions.

The George Institute for Global Health, part of the University of Sydney, has recommended to the NSW government that the menu labelling requirements for fast food businesses should also be extended.

Alexandra Jones, project officer for the George Institute, reportedly told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Health Star Rating system is easier for the public to understand than the current advertising requirements. At the moment fast food businesses are required to list the total number of kilojoules for each of their products, which can cause confusion.

“Healthy stars are a really simple way for people to know if the food they are eating is healthy and a way to compare similar foods,” said Ms Jones.

Is Australia headed for a weight crisis?

According to the Health Star Rating website 63 per cent of Australia adults are currently overweight or obese; which is one of the reasons why experts are calling for more nutritional information to be included on fast food.

This government-backed Health Star Rating system is a prime example of the current trend towards tightening the regulations surrounding nutritional information and health claims on food. If the recommendation is successful and the system is applied to fast food, it will no doubt be very interesting to see the outcome.