On 27 June 2014 the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) agreed to the implementation of an amended version of the front of pack Health Star Rating System (the HSR System). The HSR System commenced on 27 June 2014 and will be voluntary for the first five years. A review is scheduled to take place in June 2016.
Some businesses in the food industry have already signalled their intention to implement the HSR System. Other businesses in the food industry should consider how the HSR System may apply to their food products and whether implementation of the HSR System would be appropriate in their circumstances. Businesses should also consider the costs savings of making changes to their front of pack labelling at the same time as implementing changes under the Australian Food Standards Code Standard 1.2.7 (Nutrition, Health and Related Claims) which becomes mandatory in January 2016. See our previous article on Standard 1.2.7 here.
The Health Star Rating System aims to provide convenient, relevant and readily understood information and guidance on food packs to assist consumers to make informed and healthier eating choices.
The HSR System complements the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) requirements on packaged food products and uses an algorithm that awards a star rating based on the quantity of specific food components. The HSR System comprises three elements:
The HSR System has been designed for application to packaged food products presented for retail sale through supermarkets and similar retail outlets and is intended to be used in relation to products which carry a NIP.
The Forum has extended the implementation period for the HSR System from two years to five years to enable cost effective implementation and the potential for food reformulation. The review in June 2016 will provide an opportunity for the Forum to consider making the HSR System mandatory (from June 2019) in the event that take-up rates are low.
The Forum has also announced that the HSR System will coexist with the current Daily Intake Guide, health logos and certification schemes which are widely used in Australia to provide nutritional guidance to consumers.
A style guide and preliminary calculator are now available on the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council’s website to enable industry to access the tools they need to start work on implementing front of pack labelling ahead of the launch of a dedicated HSR System website in August 2014.
Use of the HSR System on food products will also need to comply more broadly with the Australian Food Standards Code. Nutrient icons which are displayed as part of the HSR System will be considered to be nutrient content claims and businesses will need to ensure compliance with the requirements of Food Standard 1.2.7 (Nutrition, Health and Related Claims) which is mandatory from January 2016. Use of the HSR System will also need to comply with other standards under the Australia Foods Standards Code such as Standard 1.2.9 (Legibility Requirements).
Businesses in the food industry should consider how the HSR System may apply to their food products and whether implementation of the HSR System would be appropriate in their circumstances. Some businesses may see value in early adoption of the HSR System.
The HSR System is intended to apply to both locally manufactured and imported food products and importers are encouraged to adopt the HSR System where appropriate.
Businesses should consider the costs savings of making changes to their front of pack labelling at the same time as implementing changes under Standard 1.2.7 (Nutrition, Health and Related Claims) which is mandatory from January 2016.
Watch this space for a more detailed analysis of the HSR System style guide and calculator as well as the interactions between the HSR System and the Australian Food Standards Code.
The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.