The Department of Health is reviewing HSR rules for ‘as prepared’ products.
Currently, the guidance allows products to display HSR based on the product ‘as prepared’ according to the instructions on the product packaging. i.e. adding water to packet soup or a certain amount of milk to Milo.
However, this guideline does not account for the varied and multiple ways the product may be prepared and consumed, and therefore may be misleading in these instances. Milo, for example, is a product that on its own would receive a very low score, but ‘as prepared’ with ‘200ml of skim milk’ gets a stamp of 4.5 stars.
Most of us agree that this sugar-laden powdered product shouldn’t receive such a rating and that the ‘as prepared’ 4.5 HSR is confusing people, leading us to believe this is a health food. Take Kathryn and her son’s findings, for example:
“My 10 year old son is really noticing how much sugar is in the things we eat & drink lately (we have seen the film & we have made changes). He’s great at reading labels. I bought Milo for a treat in the school holidays a while ago & this morning at breakfast he mentioned to me that the tin has a 4.5 health star rating. I suggested we read the ingredients on the tin. Lo & behold, 9.3g sugar in every 20g or 46.4g sugar in every 100g of Milo. Nearly half! So we did some Maths, and we weighed the amount of sugar what is in the tin! Here is our photo. Now looking at the side of the tin (in photo) it states 8.8g sugars. This has been calculated per 100g, but with 200ml/g milk. How deceiving is this, for parents trying to do the right thing & following these health star ratings?”
It is difficult to know how individuals prepare and consume products such as this. Some may follow guidelines and serve as the manufacturers intended. However many may be piling spoonfuls of a product like Milo into only a splash of milk, thinking they are still consuming something healthy.
Hence why the HSR of ‘as prepared’ products is up for review.
The foods listed for reappraisal are those that must be prepared in some fashion prior to consumption, including though not limited to:
- Cake mixes/pancake mixes
- Canned soups
- Coffee powder mixes
- Cordial (made with water)
- Dehydrated powdered pasta and rice products
- Gravy (usually mixed with water)
- Hot chocolate mixes
- Mashed potato mix
- Powdered custard
- Powdered soups
- Sauce mixes, including powdered and liquid sauce packs for casseroles/slow cookers
- Spice mixes
To have your say, visit Department of Health Consultation page and complete the submission survey by 30 June 2017.
And remember, if the HSR system is all too much, just focus on eating real food instead. Real whole food doesn’t need a star rating for healthiness.