The Health Star Rating System is a way of labelling food products in Australia to indicate their healthiness. Similar to energy ratings, health ratings are meant to guide consumers toward better choices.
What is the Health Star Rating System?
The Health Star Rating (HSR) labelling system was created by the Australian government in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups. It is being used voluntarily by manufacturers since June 2014 and reviewed every 5 years.
Assigned ratings go from ½ star (least healthy) to 5 stars (most healthy), which are displayed on food product packaging.
How is the Health Star Rating calculated?
The HSR score is calculated as: baseline points – (V points) – (P points) – (F points)
- Baseline points are given based on:
- average energy content (kJ) per 100 g or 100 mL
- average saturated fatty acids (g) per 100 g or 100 mL
- average total sugars (g) per 100 g or 100 mL
- average sodium (mg) per 100 g or 100 mL
- V points are given for fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes content
- P points are given for protein content
- F points are give for fibre content
The HSR final score corresponds to a number of stars based on the food category.
What does the Health Star Rating look like?
Depending on the product and package, the label may include:
- HSR + energy icon + prescribed nutrient icons (saturated fat, sugars, sodium) + 1 optional nutrient icon
- HSR + energy icon + prescribed nutrient icons (saturated fat, sugars, sodium)
- HSR + energy icon
Pros of the Health Star Rating
- It provides a quick way for consumers to make healthier choices
- It is intuitive
- It can encourage consumers to read food labels
- The calculation is made based on 100g or 100mL depending on whether the product is solid or liquid, which allows to compare different products regardless of serving size
Cons of the Health Star Rating
- Some of the healthiest foods don’t come with labels (fresh produce, fish, meat, etc.)
- As any calculated rating, it is not flawless: some healthy foods may be rated low and some unhealthy foods may be rated high just
- Some consumers may make choices based solely on the HSR and not read other important pieces of information such as ingredients lists and nutrition information panels
- The calculation is made based on 100 g or 100 mL depending on whether the product is solid or liquid, which may not be appropriate for products that are typically eating in much smaller or bigger serving sizes
For more information and documentation, head to the Health Star Rating website.