Consumer group Choice has called on Mars and Mondelēz to roll out health star ratings on all their products.
“These global food giants have changed their packaging many times since the health star system was launched two years ago,” Choice Head of Media Tom Godfrey said. “There is no excuse for them hiding the health information their customers crave.”
Recent research from the group found that 76 per cent of Australians refer to the health star ratings when choosing processed foods.
“With more than three quarters of Australians referring to the star ratings when making decisions in the supermarket, we can only assume the confectionery companies’ failure to adopt the system is because they are embarrassed about the nutritional value of the food they sell,” Mr Godfrey said. “Although the health star rating is currently voluntary, many major retailers, including Coles and Woolworths, have rolled the system out across all their products. We’d like to congratulate these brands in taking such a positive step to help consumers make informed food choices. It seems clear Mondelēz’s reluctance to roll out health stars is because they’re embarrassed by the nutritional profile of their products.”
Choice’s criticisms have been called disingenuous by industry representatives in a statement from the Australian Industry Group (AIG). Agreement has been reached with the federal Government’s Health Star Rating Committee, which includes a representative from Choice, that the health star rating does apply to the confectionery industry, although manufacturers did not need to include stars on front-of-pack.
Choice is well aware of this understanding and to criticise the confectionery industry is totally inappropriate, according to the Head of the Confectionery Sector of the AIG, Tim Piper.
“A review of the system will be conducted five years after its introduction, also agreed by the Health Star Rating Committee,” he said.
The confectionery industry considers its products as treats and encourages consumption in moderation as part of its ‘Be Treatwise’ consumer program that is used by all major Australian confectionery companies.