How Health Star Ratings work

Health Star Ratings reflect the overall nutrition content and healthiness of packaged foods. Learn how health stars are calculated and how to use them when you shop for food.

On similar foods, more stars mean a healthier choice

The Health Star Rating system makes it easier to choose healthier packaged food. Food manufacturers can voluntarily include them on food labels.

The system uses a rating scale of 0.5 to 5 stars. When comparing similar foods, foods with more stars are healthier than foods with fewer stars.

A reliable way to compare foods

You can trust the Health Star Ratings you see on packaged foods. They are an independent rating. When developing Health Star Ratings, the New Zealand and Australian governments worked with:

  • public health experts
  • the food industry
  • consumer groups.

What to look for when food shopping

When you write your shopping list, make sure you include a variety of healthy foods.

Healthy eating – Ministry of Health

At the supermarket or shop, look for health stars on the front of packaged foods. Use the health stars to help choose each food on your list.

For example, when choosing which breakfast cereal to buy, compare the number of health stars on different cereal packets to choose the healthiest one. Health stars shouldn’t be used to compare different types of food – such as peanut butter versus cereal.

Health Star Ratings can appear on labels in a few different ways. Some foods only carry the overall Health Star Rating of the product. Other foods include information about specific nutrients (such as saturated fats or sugars).

Health Star Rating labels, one with 3.5 stars only, another with 3.5 stars and nutrition information.

Examples of health star labels.

Video: Health Star Rating advertisement (31 seconds)

Check the recommended serving size

Health Star Ratings can help you make better food choices. But this doesn't mean you can eat large amounts of food with more stars. Check the nutrition information panel on the packet for the recommended serving size.

How health stars are calculated

Packaged foods are given a number of stars based on:

  • their nutrients
  • ingredients
  • the amount of energy (kilojoules) they provide.

Manufacturers work out the rating of their product by putting nutrition information into the "Health Star Rating Calculator". Foods get more stars if they are:

  • lower in saturated fat, sugar, or sodium (salt)
  • higher in healthy nutrients and ingredients (fibre, protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, or legumes).

Find out more

How ratings are calculated – Health Promotion Agency fact sheet

How food companies calculate a rating

Not all foods have Health Star Ratings

Health Star Ratings are suitable for most packaged foods but aren't usually used on foods that:

  • don't need a nutrition information panel, such as tea, coffee, herbs, or spices
  • aren't packaged, like fresh fruits and vegetables – but these are still an important part of a healthy diet.

Health Star Ratings are voluntary, so you won’t see them on all packaged foods. If your favourite packaged food does not have a rating, you can contact the company to encourage them to use health stars.

New Zealand companies displaying Health Star Ratings

If you have questions or concerns about a health star rating

You might have questions about or don't agree with the way a company has used health stars. If this happens, contact the company directly to discuss your concerns.

If you're not satisfied with the company's response, you can submit a dispute resolution notice form. This will be reviewed by the Health Star Rating Advisory Committee.

Dispute resolution process – Health Star Rating System

Find out more

Health Star Rating System (Australian website)

FAQs – Health Star Rating System (Australian website)

Nutrition and Activity Hub – Health Promotion Agency

Using health stars to choose healthier packaged foods – Health Promotion Agency

Eating and activity guidelines – Ministry of Health

Healthy food ideas – Healthy Kids

Who to contact

If you have questions about Health Star Ratings, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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