The Australian Government has recently released a new voluntary
system for labelling packaged foods with a 'health star
The star rating system provides a simple, visual means of
communicating the fat, sodium, sugar and overall kilojoule content
of a packaged food item to consumers. Labels will feature a
possible five star rating for foods, with more stars indicating
that the product is a better nutritional choice than a product with
fewer stars. It will apply to most packaged foods, with the
exception of soft drink and confectionary, which will only display
The new health star rating system is intended to assist
consumers in understanding the nutritional value of packaged foods.
In a media release on 14 June, the Australian Minister for Health
stated that 'Front-of-Pack Labelling will support consumers
to make healthier food choices by giving them at-a-glance
information about the food they buy'.
This new system was developed with the input of government,
industry and the community and is the result of 18 months of work
by the Independent Review on Food Labelling Law and Policy. It
follows an unsuccessful attempt to introduce 'traffic
light' warning labels for packaged foods, similar to the system
in place in the UK.
Although industry groups have stated that they are willing to
cooperate with the Government to implement a workable health
labelling system, they have also expressed concerns about the star
rating system. Chief among these concerns is the cost to
manufacturers that will result in changing package and label
designs, as well as the methodology underpinning the star rating
The Australian Food and Grocery Council stated its reservations
about what it sees as a lack of evidence that the system will
achieve intended outcomes, as well as the lack of a cost benefit
analysis which it believes should have been undertaken by the
Government prior to publicly announcing the new system.
The star rating system will initially be implemented by industry
on a voluntary basis. However, the Government has indicated that
uptake of the rating system will be evaluated after two years and,
if there is no evidence of widespread use of the system, it will
become a mandatory standard.
Norton Rose Fulbright Australia will continue to provide updates
as the implementation continues. In the meantime, please contact
Frances Drummond if you would like any more specific information on
the changes, the impact they may have on your business and what you
can do now to prepare.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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