Health advocates believe the New Zealand government’s Heath Star Food rating system has made little impact since being launched in 2014.
Since then, only 22 companies have participated on the voluntary food rating guidelines, which aim to provide consumers with a better understanding of packaging labels on food products. The system ranks packaged food out of five stars and judges them based on sugar, salt and fat content.
New Zealand is one of several countries that have pondered on the use of front-of-pack nutrition labels. In Thailand, the use of such labels are mandatory, amid scientific proof that food labels certainly help in promoting healthy diet options amongst consumers.
Since the Heath Star Food rating system is voluntary, the absence of star ratings on certain products may lead consumers to make wrong decisions on their purchases, just because some products may still be considered healthy even without the said rating, according dietician Sarah Elliot.
On the other hand, the system is now being used for more than 1,200 products, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, which oversees the rating scheme. While that is still a small number, it can require up to two years to change packaging labels on food products, said Phillippa Hawthorne, a Ministry for Primary Industries specialist advisor for food labelling.To streamline this transition, employing the services of companies like Unimax that provide customised labesis a good idea.
The debate over front-of-pack mandatory nutrition labels on healthy food argues that for the trend to become really successful, a uniform and simplified approach should be adopted in the industry to prevent confusion. The creation of a streamlined front labels will not only help producers and retailers to be on the same page, but also aid buyers in making smarter food choices.
And that’s not to say labels at the back part should no longer be a priority, since the food and beverage industry need to use every viable option to raise awareness on healthy eating and contribute to a lesser rate of diet-related diseases.