Parents are hitting back at last week’s decision to rate 100 per cent pure orange juice as less healthy than diet cola.
- Dietitians Australia says there needs to be more education on how to use the HSR system
- Parents are annoyed with juice’s lowly new ranking and dismayed producers are planning to peel off the HSR logo
- A dietitian says health ratings for juices need to be made in comparison with whole fruits
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.
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.”