Fruit growers and processors say they are crushed by a decision to cut the health star rating (HSR) for 100% no-added-sugar juices from five stars to as low as two stars. The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, a group made up of state and territory ministers, met to consider its response to recommendations as part of the five-year HSR review.
A communique from the forum released days after the event, indicated that a decision would be made on ratings for 100% and vegetable juices in February 2021. The Federal Government’s aim in developing the ratings is to give shoppers an easy way to identify better choices of packaged and processed foods, something Agriculture Minister David Littleproud asserts is undermined by the recommendation.
“What I don’t accept is the insanity of this decision, which really has no basis on nutritional value — it really just is mind-numbingly dumb,” he said.
Last chance to improve the HSR
Food is rated from half-a-star to five stars depending on how its healthy and risk nutrients compare but the system has come in for criticism. The forum’s July 2020 communique revealed Mr Littleproud’s initial push — to see 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar receive an automatic HSR score of five stars — was not supported and the review recommendations were maintained. Citrus Australia chief executive Nathan Hancock said he was disappointed with the decision.”It sends a really poor message to our consumers, who, let’s face it, need to have more fruit and vegetables,” he said. “Being told that diet soda is better for them than a juice product, we think, is confusing. Because diet soft drinks have artificial sugars, it elevates them above juices which have natural sugars.” ABC.net.au