14 November – Boosted Health Star Ratings get tougher on sugar and salt
An upgrade to the Health Star Rating system has come into force today.
Key changes include lower ratings for products with high levels of sugar and salt – including sugary breakfast cereals and fruit juices – and automatic 5-star ratings for minimally processed fruit and vegetables.
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, and 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. Don't use health stars 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).
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.
Video: Health Star Rating advertisement (31 seconds)
Transcript - show/hide
Video title: Health Stars NZ – Ever wondered how healthy your food is?
[Animated cereal boxes sitting on supermarket shelf displaying Health Star Ratings; Box 1 has 1 and a half stars, Box 2 has 2 and a half stars, Box 3 has 4 and a half stars]
Box 2: Have you ever wondered how healthy we are?
Box 1: Come on, man. You’ve got this. Just close your eyes. You can feel it.
[Boxes 1 and 2 close their eyes and hum like they are meditating.]
Box 2: Are you sure this is how it works?
Box 1: Believe, bro. Believe.
[Box 3 gets picked up off the shelf by a shopper]
Box 3: Later.
Box 1: What’s so special about her?
Box 2: Four and a half stars! She’s like a galaxy.
[Camera focuses on 2.5-star image]
[Last screen shows: Health Star Ratings image, “Healthier is easy when you look for Health Stars”, Ministry of Health logo, Ministry for Primary Industries logo, Health Promotion Agency logo]
[End of transcript]
How health stars are calculated
Packaged foods are given a number of stars based on:
- their nutrients
- 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 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, or
- aren't packaged, like deli items.
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
Boosted Health Star Ratings get tougher on sugar and salt
Health Star Rating System (Australian website)
FAQs – Health Star Rating System (Australian website)
Eating and activity guidelines – Ministry of Health
Healthy food ideas – Healthy Kids
Who to contact
If you have questions about Health Star Ratings, email firstname.lastname@example.org