The Health Star Rating system is a front-of-pack labelling system developed for use in Australia and New Zealand. Its purpose 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’.
It provides an at-a-glance overall rating of the healthiness of the food product (reflected as a star rating), as well as specific nutrient and energy information. The more stars, the healthier the choice.
On 9 December 2011, in response to Recommendation 50 of Labelling Logic, the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (2011), the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation (now known as the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation) agreed to the development of an easily understood, interpretive front-of-pack labelling scheme for packaged food products.
The subsequent, collaborative process to develop the Health Star Rating system involved Australian, state and territory governments, industry, public health and consumer groups.
On 13 December 2013, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) endorsed the use of the Health Star Rating Calculator as part of the Health Star Rating system. Following this endorsement, on 27 June 2014 the Forum agreed that the Health Star Rating system should be voluntarily implemented over a five year period, with progress reviewed after two years.
A Project Committee was established to develop the Health Star Rating system that included representatives from Australian, and state and territory governments, industry, public health and consumer groups.
The Project Committee commissioned two working groups to report on technical design, and on implementation, evaluation and education aspects of the Health Star Rating system.
Information about the process of developing the Health Star Rating system, including committee information and consumer market research reports, is available in the Food Regulation Secretariat updates on the Department of Health website.
The algorithm that drives the Heath Star Rating Calculator was developed in consultation with Food Standards Australia New Zealand and other technical and nutrition experts.
The Health Star Rating Calculator is a modified version of the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand for the regulation of health claims in Australia and New Zealand and prescribed in Standard 1.2.7 – Nutrition, Health and Related Claims of the Food Standards Code.
Yes. In some circumstances it may be more practical to 'oversticker' existing product packaging with the Health Star Rating system graphic. This may be a temporary approach until permanent packaging changes can be made, or may suit some product categories such as imported product.Stickers should not obscure any mandatory labelling required by the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code, and the Health Star Rating graphic should be consistent with the Health Star Rating Style Guide.
The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation agreed that the Health Star Rating system would be implemented by industry on a voluntary basis over five years (from 27 June 2014), with a review after two years. Monitoring and evaluation of the Health Star Rating system will address three areas of enquiry:
- Label implementation and consistency with the Health Star Rating system Style Guide;
- Consumer awareness and ability to use the Health Star Rating system accurately; and
- Nutrient status of products carrying a Health Star Rating system label.
The Health Star Rating can be displayed on food products immediately, in accordance with the guidance provided in the Health Star Rating system Style Guide.
The Health Star Rating system has been optimised for application to packaged processed food products that are made from a combination of ingredients. Consequently, the system was not designed for single ingredient foods and in particular single ingredient foods that cannot be reformulated to achieve a better nutritional profile and Health Star Rating.
As the system has not been designed with single ingredient (e.g. honey, oats) and non-nutritive foods (e.g. vinegar, coffee) in mind, there is no expectation that a Health Star Rating be applied to such products. These products are not excluded from the system however and manufacturers can apply the system if they wish to.
In the instance that a manufacturer wishes to apply the Health Star Rating system but has a product that cannot be reformulated and receives a low Health Star Rating, they have the ability to display the energy icon only option. This presentation option may be particularly appropriate for products that are designed to be consumed in small amounts, within the context of an appropriately balanced diet (e.g. as a sometimes food only) and contribute only a small amount to total daily energy requirements.
The Health Star Rating Calculator has been developed to calculate the Health Star Rating for packaged food products.
The Calculator takes into account four aspects of a food associated with increasing the risk factors of chronic diseases, these are energy, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content. Certain ‘positive’ aspects of a food such as fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content, and in some instances, dietary fibre and protein content are also considered.
Taking these components into account, points are allocated based on the nutritional composition of 100g or 100mL, following the units used in the Nutrition Information Panel of a packaged food. The points are converted to a star rating (from ½ to 5 stars). The Calculator should be used in conjunction with the Guide for Industry to the Health Star Rating Calculator.
What if I believe my food product should receive a higher score because it is an important part of a balanced diet?
If you believe that your Health Star Rating is incorrect, consider the following points in relation to the Calculator:
- Have you chosen the correct category for the food product?
- Have all nutrient values been entered correctly?
- Have you entered values (or zero values) in all of the spreadsheet fields?
- Has fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes content been calculated correctly?
If you have considered the above and achieved the same Health Star Rating, it may be that your food product is close to the border line for the next star for the particular category. Relatively small changes to the product formulation may result in a different Health Star Rating.
The Health Star Rating system enables comparison of similar packaged food products, rather than providing guidance on how much of each food should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.
The Health Star Rating system graphic can be displayed in a number of different ways. The full system graphic uses a star rating, ‘risk’ nutrient icons and a ‘positive’ nutrient icon. In certain circumstances, additional interpretive information can also be displayed through % Daily Intake (for energy), and ‘high’ and ‘low’ qualifiers for the nutrients. Refer to the Style Guide for more information about these.
Not all products will choose to display a ‘positive’ nutrient, and some packages may choose – or only have enough space to display – the star rating icon or the energy icon. The hierarchy of elements included in the Style Guide provides further information about how to choose a display best suited to an individual product.
- The Health Star Rating graphic can be scaled to fit packaging, provided all elements can be clearly read, and legislative criteria are met (e.g. compliance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code).
- Fewer elements of the Health Star Rating graphic can be displayed, in line with the hierarchy of elements provided in the Health Star Rating Style Guide.
- Very small packages or labels may wish to display the star rating or energy icon only.
The purpose of the Health Star Rating system is to provide convenient, relevant and readily understood nutrition information and/or guidance on food packages to assist consumers to make informed purchases and healthier food choices. The implementation of the Health Star Rating system will be monitored and evaluated against these measures, as well as any changes in consumer purchasing behaviours, overseen by the Health Star Rating Advisory Committee made up of industry, government and public health/consumer representatives.
Will there be any financial assistance to industry to help with the cost of adopting the Health Star Rating system?
No direct financial assistance is available to industry to help with the cost of adopting the Health Star Rating system.
The Health Star Rating system is voluntary. Food manufacturers and retailers that wish to implement the Health Star Rating system labelling should consider how costs can be minimised for their individual circumstances (such as incorporating the Health Star Rating into other planned label amendments).
A stakeholder kit has been developed to assist industry or health professionals to communicate with networks and consumers about the Health Star Rating system. This kit includes key messages, draft editorial and social media posts. To request a copy of the stakeholder kit, please contact the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat
The Health Star Rating Calculator (HSRC) can be used in two different formats: online or via a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
The Online Calculator generates a Health Star Rating for products and then provides the product’s corresponding star rating artwork.
The Excel Calculator is a spreadsheet which calculates the Health Star Ratings of products only. The Health Star Rating Style Guide, Guide for Industry, and artwork files are accessed separately.
Before accessing the Excel calculator, please close any Excel workbooks that may already be open on your desktop.
We recommend that you use this web form in a modern browser such as Internet Explorer 9+, Chrome or Firefox. Results of the calculator may not be accurate in older browsers. If you are unsure, please use the Excel Calculator instead.
In both cases, the Terms and Conditions must be accepted before use.
The Health Star Rating system is voluntary. Implementation costs will vary for each organisation depending on factors such as existing contractual arrangements, the timing of existing labelling cycles, and whether label design is undertaken in-house or contracted out to an external agency. Food manufacturers and retailers should consider how they can implement the Health Star Rating system so as to minimise costs (such as incorporating the Health Star Rating into other planned label amendments), depending on their individual circumstances.
A business case completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers includes a cost benefit analysis of the voluntary implementation of the system. This report is available online at the Department of Health website.
The analysis was informed by:
- evidence based research sourced from Australian and international literature, reports, data and statistics;
- updating the 2008 Cost Schedule for Food Labelling Changes (via surveying food companies);
- consultations with industry and public health/consumer groups (workshops and one-on-one consultations were held in March 2014); and
- other information sources as appropriate.
The cost benefit analysis explores the costs that may be borne by industry, governments and non-government organisations as a result of the voluntary introduction of the system; and the potential benefits, for industry and consumers.
Should you wish to discuss potential approaches to adopting the system, please contact the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat.
The Health Star Rating system is voluntary. On 27 June 2014, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation agreed to make the Health Star Rating system voluntary and implemented over a five year period, with progress reviewed after two years.
The five year period enables cost effective implementation and the potential for food reformulation and consultation with small and medium sized enterprises.
Food manufacturers and retailers are responsible for the correct and accurate use of the Health Star Rating system. This includes, but is not limited to, correctly calculating the Health Star Rating, accurately displaying nutrient information, ensuring consistency of information between the Health Star Rating and the Nutrition Information Panel, and complying with all relevant legislation and regulations.
The Health Star Rating Advisory Committee (HSRAC) is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Health Star Rating system. The HSRAC has agreed to a process for assessing and resolving disputes. The Dispute Resolution Process can be found on the Applying to Products page.
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Questions about calculating a Health Star Rating or other aspects of the Health Star Rating system and its operation can be directed to the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat. Contact the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat.