Expert says star rating for foods should be mandatory

A star labelling system to rank the healthiness of food is to be introduced in New Zealand.

The voluntary initiative will rank the nutritional value of foods by stars. Source: 1 NEWS

The voluntary scheme ranks products from 1/2 a star to five stars - the more stars a product has the healthier it will be.

A nutrition expert says the system is a signal for industry as well as consumers. Professor Boyd Swinburn says it is what people in public health have been calling for for years and he hopes the uptake will be high.

Professor Swinburn expects the biggest will be through producers changing products to get a better star rating and he wants consumers to support the companies which adopt the practice.

"It's going to be relatively easy for consumers to understand and gives them the opportunity to make healthy choices," Professor Swinburn told ONE News.

But he believes there's no signal incentive for industry while the scheme is voluntary and Professor Swinburn thinks it will need to be made mandatory to ensure a level playing field.

Sanatarium has already announced that it will adopt the system across its entire range and that ratings will start appearing on its products over the next few months.

The Health Star Rating system can be used on all packaged foods except for alcohol and some other products and it's hoped that the new scheme will be in action in New Zealand in the next six to 12 months.