Bid to stop 2-star health rating for juice

A proposal’s been made to change the Health Star Rating (HSR) system, which would see Australian juice labelled with 2 stars.

On the other hand, diet cola would get 3 ½ stars.

Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock says that the labelling is unfair and would have a $67-million impact on Australian orange growers alone.

“The algorithm that underpins the Health Star Rating targets total sugars indiscriminately and disregards the health benefits provided by 100% fruit juice, which contains natural sugars from the fruit as well as essential nutrients,” Mr Hancock says.

“The fact that diet soft drink with no nutritional value can receive 3 ½ stars while fresh juice gets 2 stars would suggest the Health Star Rating system is not focused on the overall health benefits of a product, but instead focused on just one element.

“This change would undermine confidence in the health star rating itself.”

Dietitian Teri Lichtenstein says the changes may create confusion for consumers, by penalising naturally occurring sugar in foods that provide nutritional value.

“It doesn’t make sense that 100% orange juice – which is recognised as a core food group in The Australian Dietary Guidelines (when ½ a cup is consumed occasionally) due to the presence of important nutrients would receive only 2 ½ stars, while diet soft drink which provides no nutritional value, will receive 3 ½ stars.”

A survey shows that 3 in 4 adult Australians are not eating the recommended intake of 2 serves of fruit each day.

“A serve (1/2 cup) of 100% orange juice is a rich source of vitamin C and folate, important nutrients for immunity and psychological wellbeing,” Ms Lichtenstein continues.

“It is important to consider the bigger picture when comparing 100% orange juice with diet soft drinks or other discretionary beverages and take into account the nutritional value that the beverage provides.”

Citrus Australia, the National Farmers Federation, AusVeg, Apple and Pear Australia, the NFF Hort Council, Passionfruit Australia, Mangoes Australia and Summerfruit Australia are all calling on State and Federal Government Forum representatives to support an automatic 4 Star rating in recognition of the nutritional benefits of fresh juice.

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