CHOICE uses Health Star system to rate popular lunchbox products

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th March 2014
CHOICE has tested popular lunchbox contents with the Health Star Rating calculator

Australian consumer group CHOICE says it found “significant variations in the nutritional profile” of several popular ‘lunchbox’ items it tested using the Health Star rating system and found significant variations in the nutritional profile of the products.

The consumer group compared the elements of a ham and cheese sandwich, a muesli bar and a milk popper by applying the Health Star Rating calculator.

Australian Food News reported in Februrary 2014 that CHOICE had used the Health Star Rating calculator to analyse various food products made by foid manufacturing giant Mondelez. The earlier calculations by CHOICE after the demise of the Health Star Ratings official website and amid claims of connections between a senior staffer in the office of the Assistant Health Minister, Senator Fiona Nash, and a lobby group which has some of Mondelez’s brands as its clients.

CHOICE claimed its latest calculations showed that even though some of the products only varied by one star, this could mean “a significant difference in fibre or sugar content”.

“CHOICE’s snapshot shows how the Health Star Rating scheme would help parents make healthier choices for their kids,” insisted Angela Cartwright, CHOICE Campaigns Manager.

“When it comes to a ham and cheese sandwich, there was a one star difference between the two breads, a two star difference between the ham options and two and half stars separating both the cheeses and the spreads,” Ms Cartwright said.

CHOICE Health Star Ratings calculations

  • Tip Top 9 Grain Wholemeal bread, 4.5 stars

  • Tip Top Sunblest Soft White Sandwich bread, 3.5 stars

  • Meadow Lea Spreadable Original, 3 stars

  • Western Star Spreadable Original, 0.5 stars

  • Primo Thinly Sliced Salt Reduced Leg Ham, 4 stars

  • Thinly Sliced English Leg Ham, 2 stars

  • Bega Country Light Tasty Cheese Slices [25% less fat], 4 stars

  • Bega Farmer’s Tasty Cheese Slices, 1.5 stars

  • Freedom Foods Free Oats Chewy Apricot bars, 4 stars

  • Uncle Tobys Muesli Bars Chewy Apricot, 3 stars

  • Devondale Our Lightest One Skim Milk, 4.5 stars

  • Devondale Moo Chocolate Milk, 3 stars

According to CHOICE, the Health Star Rating would act as a cue for parents to consider the nutrient information on-pack.