Health Star Rating ranks 100pc pure orange juice lower than diet cola, parents

Parents are hitting back at last week’s decision to rate 100 per cent pure orange juice as less healthy than diet cola.

In its latest review, the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation decided to focus more on the amount of sugar in products when calculating Health Star Ratings (HSRs).

Becky Noordink, a mother of three young boys in Western Australia’s Great Southern region, said she thought the rating was misleading.

“I was pretty shocked because it doesn’t make sense,” she said.

“If you look at the ingredients in a soda drink versus a pure fruit juice, there are so many man-made chemicals versus a fruit juice that’s come off a tree.”

Ms Noordink said there should be a distinction between natural ingredients and products that had added sugar, caffeine and preservatives.

“HSRs only look at a small percentage of the actual product — it doesn’t give a good overall picture of nutrients you can feed your family,” she said.

“For example, avocados are full of fat, but it’s good fat.

Orange juice health star ratingOrange juice health star rating
Fruit juice is not guaranteed to receive a high health star rating under the new guidelines.(ABC Rural: Nikolai Beilharz)

No stars for mum

Ms Noordink said the the HSR system could drive uninformed food purchases because people would just look at the logo rather than read the ingredients.

“I stopped using the health stars long ago as I just found there were too many inconsistencies,” she said.

But she agreed there was more nutritional benefit in feeding her children whole fruits.

“I wouldn’t use [juice] as a primary health source,” she said.

The HSR system takes into account beneficial components as well as those linked to increased risk of developing chronic diseases.

Ratings are based on:

  •  Total energy (kilojoules)
  •  Saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugar content
  •  Fibre, protein, fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content

Water ‘the gold standard’

Simone Austin, an accredited dietitian and senior dietetic adviser from Dieticians Australia, said there needed to be more education on how to use the HSR system.

“[The system] is about packaged food and should be used for multi-ingredient food — for example, breakfast cereal,” she said.

“The algorithm is really looking at sugar, so the most important thing to remember in this category is that water is the gold standard.”

A bunch of oranges hanging from a treeA bunch of oranges hanging from a tree
David Littleproud has slammed the decision that has diet cola with a higher rating than juice.(ABC Rural: Tom…

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