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Food manufacturers are upping the ante when it comes to using the Health Star Ratings systems on food labels, Minister for Food Safety David Bennett says.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is reporting as at 31 March 2017 about 2700 packaged food products with Health Star Ratings were available to New Zealand consumers,” Mr Bennett says.

“That number is a significant increase on a survey done only a year before that showed 807 products on shop shelves with Health Star Ratings.

“The decision to work with industry to introduce the system voluntarily means costs are being kept down, both for producers and people buying the products.

“This jump follows a large increase in consumer awareness and understanding of the system. A survey published by MPI shows that more than 60 per cent of consumers are aware of Health Star Ratings.

“About 50 per cent of consumers have a correct understanding of how the system works.”

Health Star Ratings are an independent rating system developed by the New Zealand and Australian governments in collaboration with public health experts, the food industry and consumer groups. Packaged foods are given a number of stars based on their nutrients, ingredients and the amount of energy (kilojoules) they provide, so consumers can compare similar products to see which is healthier.

“Health Star Ratings were only introduced in 2014. We are delighted to see the food industry embracing them as a useful tool to inform consumers about their products.”

“Not only that, some companies have improved their products to make them healthier and to get a higher star rating.

“Consumers too are showing they understand what the Health Star Ratings are for, and that they can use the system to select a healthier food option, based on the number of stars on the package,” Mr Bennett says.

More information can be found at: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/whats-in-our-food/food-labelling/health-star-ratings/

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