Calculating and applying Health Star Ratings

If you are a food manufacturer or retailer of packaged foods, you can use Health Star Ratings on most of these foods. Find out how to calculate a Health Star Rating, label your products, and report a rating issue.

On similar foods, more stars means a healthier choice

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

The system is voluntary. You are encouraged to use health stars on most packaged foods across your full range.

Health Star Rating labels can provide information on:

  • energy content (kilojoules)
  • saturated fat
  • sodium (salt)
  • sugars
  • one beneficial nutrient such as calcium or fibre.
Example labels of a food product with 3.5 health stars

Examples of health star labels.

Calculate a rating for your product

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.

Guide for industry to the Health Star Rating Calculator - Health Star Rating System

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.

Choose a calculator – Health Star Rating System

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.

How ratings are calculated

The rating is based on:

  • risk nutrients (saturated fat, sodium, energy, and total sugars)
  • healthy ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes
  • dietary fibre and protein content in some cases.

Ratings are based on the nutritional composition of 100g or 100ml of the food or drink.

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.

Label your product

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 parts can be used on food packaging, including specifications for the preferred graphic.

The Health Star Rating system Style Guide - Health Star Rating System

Why use the system?

The number of New Zealand companies using the Health Star Rating system continues to rise. Consumer research shows shoppers increasingly recognise and use health stars when buying food. Some choose a brand with health stars on the label over their regular brand.

Health stars may also encourage manufacturers to make their products healthier to increase their star rating.

Consumer awareness and use report - Health Promotion Agency

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New Zealand companies displaying Health Star Ratings

As at September 30 2020, over 5,400 products in supermarkets had Health Stars on their labels. This list of New Zealand companies displaying health stars on their products is provided for information only and is not an endorsement.

If you are using health stars on your products and would like to be added to the list, email info@mpi.govt.nz

  • Arnott’s
  • Asahi
  • Blue Frog
  • Coca-Cola
  • Countdown
  • Delmaine
  • Emerald
  • Farmer Brown
  • Fonterra Brands NZ
  • Four Square
  • Freshpork
  • Frucor
  • Gonutz
  • Goodman Fielder
  • Griffins
  • Harraways
  • Heinz Wattie’s
  • Hellers
  • Kabayan’s Peanut Butter
  • Kellogg
  • Leader Products
  • Life Health Foods
  • Lion
  • Mars
  • McCain
  • Nestlé
  • New World
  • Pak’n Save
  • PepsiCo NZ
  • Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter
  • Pitango and Artisano
  • Plenty Land Limited
  • Prolife Foods
  • Red Seal
  • SunRice
  • Sanitarium
  • San Remo
  • Sealord
  • Shore-Mariner
  • Simplot NZ
  • Smartfoods
  • Tasti
  • Tegal
  • Unilever
  • Upfield Foods
  • Vitaco

Cost of using the system

There is no government charge to use the Health Star Rating system. The only costs involved are for things like label production and staffing.

Not all foods can have Health Star Ratings

The Health Star Rating system is designed for most packaged foods. You can't use it on alcohol, kava, or some special purpose foods such as:

  • formulated 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, herbs, or spices.

Report rating problems

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 anomaly occurs when a Health Star Rating:

  • is inconsistent with the Australian dietary guidelines (the Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults are similar to the Australian guidelines), or
  • could cause consumers to make misleading comparisons with similar foods or food categories.

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 website has information on:

  • what an anomaly is
  • how to report a rating anomaly (make a submission)
  • the submission form
  • the assessment process
  • potential anomalies that have already been reported.

Find out about reporting anomalies and other rating problems – Health Star Rating System

Consumer questions or concerns about a Health Star Rating

A consumer might have questions about or not agree with the way a company has used health stars. If this happens, they should contact the company directly to discuss their concerns.

If they are not satisfied with the company's response, they 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

Eating and activity guidelines – Ministry of Health

Australian dietary guidelines – Eat For Health

Who to contact

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

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