Wow, I really can’t believe that so little has changed in reference to the Australian Government’s Health Star Rating System (HSRS) since we first wrote this blog. Actually, it’s government so I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Disappointing, really.
So, I thought I’d catch up on what changes have been happening around nutrition and how public perceptions have been influenced by our government. One of the most impactful systems in place today is the Health Star Rating System, first launched in 2014.
In 2018, public confusion, pressure and disdain encouraged Nestle to stop corrupting the HSRS to promote their products and healthy. From memory, I believe that Nestle ditched the 4.5 star rating for Milo (crazy, right?) but have not implemented the correct 1.5 star rating as the system is a voluntary one. Doesn’t really sound like a fair playing field.
Just look at who is on the advisory board to see that politics, as usual, plays a big part in this farce.
Anyway, jump forward to 2020, where ‘the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) finalised its response to all Recommendations of the Health Star Rating Five Year Review; endorsed a Review Implementation Plan; and agreed an implementation start date of 15 November 2020’. (info sourced from healthstarrating.gov.au)
If you’d like to read more about changes to the HSRS, here’s the link to the Australian Government’s HSRS Implementation Plan, due to be fully implemented by 14 November 2022.
Original blog 2017
What I’ve noticed is that what is on the front of the label (marketing) is not a true indication of what the product is delivering. This has always been pretty obvious as marketing is used to make us buy the products and of course they are going to make it sound good for us. What I was astounded by is that the Government’s Health Star Rating advice right on the front of the packet.
Personally I’d never really taken notice of it as we don’t buy a lot of packet stuff and I’m definitely not a fan of some of the governments nutritional recommendations so never really noticed it. I have since discovered it and IT’S CRAP!
“The Health Star Rating is a front-of-pack labeling system that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It provides a quick, easy, standard way to compare similar packaged foods. The more stars, the healthier the choice.”http://healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/Content/About-health-stars
So the more stars a product has the better it is for us!
Mmmm ok so I did a bit of research when I was at the shops the other day. Check out some of the star ratings I found:
I was super excited to find that my all time childhood favorite drink is 4 1/2 Stars!!
Milo, yes Milo has a rating of 4.5 stars. Now I’m not sure EXACTLY how this is calculated but I think the Governments Health Star calculator might be faulty!
“The Health Star Rating Calculator allows you to enter the specific nutritional information of your products to calculate the star rating. The Health Star Rating Calculator should be used in conjunction with the Guide for Industry to the Health Star Rating Calculator.” http://healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/Content/Applying-to-your-products
So let’s have a look at the Milo and see how I would rate it and why?
When I’m choosing a packet food the first thing I do is turn the packet around – I TOTALLY IGNORE WHAT IS ON THE FRONT OF THE PACKET!
What I’m looking for is two things – Ingredients and Nutritional Information
So first I’ll check out the Nutritional Information –
Main things I’m looking at is –
- Total Cals
First thing most of the time is sugar as most packet foods are loaded with sugar. When I look at the label I go straight to how much it has per 100g as this can easily give you a percentage. If I look at the Milo it says 46.4g of sugar per 100g. That means that it is 46.4% sugar!!!
I don’t worry too much about the per serve as it depends on what serving YOU ARE HAVING and let’s be honest who has just 20g of Milo per serve!
Then I’ll check out carbs, for the Milo it was 64.5g per 100g, primarily carb/sugar food.
Milo has protein highlighted so they are obviously trying to market this as a food high in protein. Per 100g it is 11.9g of protein. So compared to carbs of 64.5 (46% being sugar), it’s not really high in protein at all.
To be honest I can’t see any reason other than a treat WHY you would include Milo. Don’t get me wrong I love the stuff but wouldn’t buy it as an everyday food.
Next i’ll look at ingredients – What I’m looking for is as little ingredients as possible or as little numbers (preservatives) as possible. I also don’t really want to see sugar listed in the ingredients.
When you look at Milo’s ingredients there isn’t really any “real” food listed. It’s just all extracts, Milk Solids and Sugars, plus they throw in some vitamins to make it sound like it’s healthy for you!
Then when you dig deeper and read the whole label you discover that Milo is only given a rating of 4.5 stars when mixed with skim milk. If it’s prepared with reduced fat milk it’s a 3 star product.
So my question is, what star rating is Milo without the milk as it’s not being sold as a milk drink but Milo granules? SERIOUSLY this infuriates me.
Anyway I could go on and on about this as it’s the biggest load of crap I’ve seen in a long time. I really thought the government was getting better with it’s nutritional advice but its still promoting such a high sugar/high carb, low fat diet that is making everyone fatter!
So rather than get annoyed what I’d love to see you do is TAKE CONTROL! kids don’t need it if you don’t buy it for them all the time.
Tips to improve your diet.
- Protein with each meal (think eggs, chicken, fish, tuna, tofu etc)
- Adding Veggies to each meal, a good variety of colours (you know the things not in a packet)
- Add some Good fats (nuts, avocado, olive oil, seeds) or Starchy Carbs if you’re active (Sweet Potato, Rice, Legumes, Beans, GRAINY Bread)
- Add 1-2 pieces of fruit per day depending on how active you are, try putting the starchy carbs and fruit in when you are the most active.
- Control your portions – Protein – size of your palm, Starchy Carbs – size of your fist, Fruit – 1 piece or 1 cup, Veggies – lots, Good Fats – Size of matchbox
Drink 2-3 L of water
- Cut out ALL SUGARY DRINKS! You don’t need them, nor do your kids!
- Have a small treat every couple of days to keep you on track.
KEEP IT SIMPLE. Stop blaming the labels and packets. Yes they are crap, yes they do lie BUT LET’S TAKE CONTROL!!!
If you need to include packet food, limit the amount you have and try and choose things that aren’t loaded with sugar.
So let’s stop the “I’m confused” excuse. Yes it can be confusing when you try and fill up on packet crap as the reality is most of it is CRAP. Try flipping your diet around. Shop on the outside of the supermarket (fresh fruit, fridge section & deli), only visit a couple of isles for the odd treat packet food.
You will honestly be amazed at how much better you can feel when you stop including so much sugar and packaged food. Bulk your diet out with lots of fresh food and see how much better you can feel. Remember everything in MODERATION. I’m not saying give up treats or cut out packaged food but instead limit it a bit. Try and include as much “REAL” food as you can.
Next I’ll do a blog on what quick and easy packet food is a better choice for those trying to make the transition to less junk in their diet!
Hope this helps.