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AMA urges food Ministers to stick by health star rating system

12 Dec 2013

The AMA is calling on the nation’s food and health Ministers to resist industry efforts to modify and complicate the Health Star Rating System for front of packet food labelling endorsed earlier this year.
As Ministers from around the country prepare to attend the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation in Canberra tomorrow, AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton urged them to back the system agreed upon in June.
“The Health Star Rating System provides consumers with a quick and simple way to check and compare food,” Dr Hambleton said.
“The more stars, the healthier the product.”
The system was developed through detailed and extensive consultations involving the AMA, the food industry, consumer organisations and public health groups, and Dr Hambleton said it was now time to get the labels on products on shop shelves.
“Following the consultations, all stakeholders agreed that the Health Star Rating System was the form of labelling food manufacturers should adopt.
“But since then, the food industry – led by the Australian Food and Grocery Council - has tried to make additions and modifications that will not add any useful information, and will instead make the system more difficult to use.
“Food and health Ministers should ignore this tinkering, which will only confuse shoppers and dilute the simple ‘at a glance’ nature of the system.”
In addition to the five-star rating scale, the system includes an information panel detailing how much saturated fat, sodium and sugar, as well as one other ingredient (chosen by the manufacturer) the food contains.
Dr Hambleton said the system would be a great tool for doctors when advising patients, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, on how to make healthy choices in what they buy and eat.
“The nation’s waistline is bulging. Obesity is an increasingly serious health problem, and doctors are at the front line in tackling it.
“The AMA’s plea to Ministers is, don’t let industry tinker with a system that can help doctors make a difference.”

12 December 2013
CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                            Kirsty Waterford                02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

Published: 12 Dec 2013