Health Star Ratings

Health Star Rating (HSR) is a national voluntary Front of Pack labelling system that uses stars to show the nutritional profile of packaged foods.

Implementation timeframes

Health Star Rating (HSR) is a national voluntary Front of Pack labelling system that uses stars to show the nutritional profile of packaged foods.

Manufacturers have 5 years to implement the system on their products (to June 2019), with a review of the progress of industry implementation after two years (to June 2016) when voluntary uptake of the system will be measured.

How it works

The labelling system complements the current Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) by providing interpretive information on the front of packaged products. It also displays a star rating with ½ star increments, to indicate which foods are better nutritional choices – the more stars displayed, the healthier the food.

It does this by using an algorithm to award a star based rating on the quantity of energy (kilojoules), saturated fat, total sugars, sodium, protein, dietary fibre, fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Calcium is also applicable for some products.

Manufacturers determine the HSR by entering the food nutrient and ingredient values in a spreadsheet calculator, known as the HSR calculator.

Food covered by the system

All packaged, manufactured or processed foods presented ready for sale in the retail sector (except for agreed exemptions) including:

  • Bread and bakery
  • Biscuits
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Canned and preserved food, including soup
  • Chilled processed food
  • Confectionery and snack bars
  • Dairy beverages
  • Beverages
  • Cheese
  • Dried processed food
  • Frozen processed food
  • Ice cream
  • Oils, spreads and fats
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Ready meals
  • Sauces, dressings and condiments.

As a guide, if a food product carries a NIP, then generally the use of the HSR system should be considered.

Importers of packaged food products into Australia are encouraged to adopt the provisions of the HSR system style guide on their food products.

Food exempt from the system

Some packaged foods are exempt from NIP labelling under Standard 1.2.8 (Nutrition Information Requirements) of the Food Standards Code, and in general, the HSR system is not appropriate for use in relation to these foods. These include foods with inherently low nutritional contribution such as: herbs, spices, vinegar, salt, pepper, tea, coffee, herbal infusions, gelatine and setting compounds.

Standard 1.2.1 (Application of Labelling and Other Information Requirements) of the Food Standards Code exempts certain ‘Fresh value-added products’ from NIP labelling, such as packaged fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, pre-packaged rolls and sandwiches.

Other foods that don’t need to display the HSR include certain special purpose foods such as infant formula products, formulated supplementary sports foods, foods for special medical purposes, alcoholic beverages (>1.5% alcohol by volume), alcohol kits and kava.

Resources

The system is set out in detail at www.healthstarrating.gov.au

Specific resources for the manufacturing industry to guide implementation include:

Health Star Rating System Style Guide  – how to display the graphics on packaging
Guide to Industry for the HSRC  – the 6 steps required to determine a HSR score and assign a rating to a food
Health Star Rating Calculator – spreadsheet containing the algorithm needed to calculate the rating