Applying Health Star Ratings
If you are a food manufacturer or retailer of packaged foods, you can use Health Star Ratings on these foods. Find out how to calculate a Health Star Rating, label your products, and report a rating issue.
On this page
- The more stars, the healthier the food
- Calculate a rating for your product
- Label your product
- Why use the system?
- Cost of using the system
- Not all foods can have Health Star Ratings
- Report problems with Health Star Ratings
The more stars, the healthier the food
The Health Star Rating system is a voluntary labelling system that uses a star rating scale of half a star to 5 stars. Foods with more stars are healthier than similar foods with fewer stars.
Health Star Rating labels can also provide information on:
- energy content (kilojoules)
- saturated fat
- sodium (salt)
- one beneficial nutrient such as calcium or fibre.
It's easy to use a Health Star Rating on your food product. You don’t need to register – just calculate your product’s star rating and prepare the label.
Before you start, read the Guide for industry to the Health Star Rating calculator which provides:
- detailed information about how the Health Star Rating is calculated
- sample calculations.
Health Star Rating Calculator
Work out the star rating for your product using the Health Star Rating Calculator. There are 2 versions:
- an online calculator that also provides the artwork for your star rating
- an excel calculator with separate artwork.
In the calculator you've chosen, enter your product's:
- nutritional information – from the nutrition information panel on the packet
- fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content.
The industry guide explains how to do this.
How ratings are calculated
The rating is based on:
- risk nutrients (saturated fat, sodium, energy and total sugars)
- 'good' ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes
- dietary fibre and protein content in some cases.
Points are based on the nutritional composition of 100g or 100ml.
The Health Star Rating is based on both the calculation and the food category. Health Star Ratings for products within a food category can vary a lot depending on their nutrient content. You can improve the rating of your product by changing the ingredients or recipe.
Prepare the label using the appropriate star rating artwork provided with the calculator.
The Health Star Rating labelling system has 3 main parts:
- Health Star Rating
- energy content
- nutrient content.
The Health Star Rating style guide provides examples of how these 3 things can be used on food packaging, including specifications for the preferred graphic.
The number of New Zealand companies using the Health Star Rating system continues to rise. Consumer Research shows consumers increasingly recognise and use health stars when shopping – some choosing a brand with health stars over their regular brand. Health stars also encourage some manufacturers to reformulate their products to make them healthier – increasing their star rating.
Companies using the system
MPI regularly updates a list of New Zealand companies that use Health Star Ratings on their products. If you are using health stars on your products and would like to be added to the list, email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no government charge to use the Health Star Rating labelling system. The only costs involved are for things like label production and staffing.
The Health Star Rating system is designed for most packaged foods. You can't use it on alcohol, kava or some formulated foods such as:
- supplementary foods for young children
- foods for special medical purposes
- infant formula.
The system isn't usually used on foods that don't need a nutrition panel, such as tea, coffee or single ingredient products like flour.
You can report issues with the Health Star Rating Calculator or with a company's use of Health Star Ratings to the Health Star Rating Advisory Committee (HSRAC).
Health Star Rating Calculator anomalies
An inconsistent Health Star Rating produced by the calculator is called an anomaly. An anomaly occurs when a Health Star Rating:
- is inconsistent with the Australian dietary guidelines (the NZ eating guidelines are similar to the Australian guidelines), or
- makes comparisons within a food category or across comparable food categories that would mislead consumers.
For example, if canned beans were rated on undrained contents, they might get fewer stars than if rated on the drained beans (due to a lower percentage of legumes). The lower rating would be misleading if the beans are meant to be eaten drained.
The Australian Health Star Rating (HSR) website has information on:
- how to report a rating anomaly (make a submission)
- the submission form
- the assessment process
- potential anomalies that have already been reported.
Issues with a company's use of health stars
If you don't agree with the way a company has used health stars, you need to 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.
The Dispute resolution process guide provides the:
- process for assessing and resolving disputes
- process for submitting a dispute resolution notice form
- dispute resolution notice form.
Find out more
- Health Star Rating industry kit [PDF, 2.1 MB]
- Eating and activity guidelines – NZ Ministry of Health
- Australian dietary guidelines
Who to contact
If you have questions about Health Star Ratings, email email@example.com
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