Australian muesli maker first to roll out Health Star Rating system
Family-owned Australian muesli manufacturer Monster Health Food Co (Monster) is the first food manufacturer in Australia to use the troubled front-of-pack labelling Health Star Rating system on its packaging, rolling out the labelling on its products in Coles supermarkets across the country.
The Company said it has not had to make any changes to its recipes to achieve high ratings, which Monster calculated using the current formulas. Based on current formulas, Monster said all its products scored from 3.5 to 5 stars. The products were self-assessed as follows:
Multigrain Porridge: 5 stars
High Fibre muesli: 4.5 stars
Sports muesli: 4.5 stars
Berry muesli: 4 stars
Tropical muesli: 4 stars
Free and Lo muesli: 4 stars
Free and Fruity muesli: 3.5 stars
Monster said its Berry and Free and Lo muesli products already carry the Health Star Rating, and remaining products will feature the new labelling over the next 12 months.
Monster Health Food Co (formerly called Monster Muesli) has been owned and operated for more than 20 years by Kim and Trevor Lauman. The Company develops and manufactures all its own products in its manufacturing facility in Sydney. “Free from” products (gluten-free, nut-free, preservative-free, wheat-free) are its specialty.
Monster move welcomed by CHOICE
Consumer group CHOICE has praised the move by Monster to roll out the Health Star Ratings on its products.
“CHOICE wants to congratulate Monster on becoming the first company in Australia to roll out the Health Stars, a labelling scheme that will allow shoppers to make healthier choices at a glance,” said Angela Cartwright, CHOICE Campaigns Manager.
“It’s encouraging that Monster was able to implement the Health Star Rating quickly and at minimal cost,” Ms Cartwright said. “Their achievement suggests the food industry lobby’s estimates about the time and money it would take to implement the system may have been seriously exaggerated,” she said.
“We are certain other food companies who want to provide consumers with better information about their products will join Monster and shoot for the stars,” Ms Cartwright said.
Health Star Rating debate
The effectiveness of the Health Star rating system, which was developed by food and beverage industry bodies, public health and consumer experts, has been the subject of an ongoing debate.
The Health Star Rating scheme was signed off by Federal, State and Territory food and health ministers in June 2013 and was expected to be implemented under a voluntary code run by the grocery industry body the Australian Food and Grocery Council.
However, implementation of the system has not been smooth sailing. In February 2014, Australian Food News reported that CHOICE had used the system to rate popular supermarket products after a Federal Health Department-sponsored website to list the Health Star Ratings of foods was taken offline on the day of its launch. In the days that followed, Alastair Furnival, Chief of Staff to Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash resigned, after it was revealed he held shares in Australian Public Affairs (APA), a lobby group whose clients include Cadbury, Kraft and the Australian Beverages Council. Senator Nash denied that Mr Furnival’s links to presented a conflict of interest.
In March 2014, Australian Food News reported that consumer group CHOICE had also used the Health Star system to rate popular lunchbox food products.