Food blogger campaigns for health star system overhaul

  • 12/10/2016

An Auckland lawyer and food writer has launched a petition advocating for the removal of the Health Star Rating System in Australia and New Zealand.

Claire Deeks is campaigning to have the system removed, saying it is giving a 'health halo' to processed foods and absolving people of responsibility to read the labels themselves.

Ms Deeks wants the Health Star System removed, and a substitute system put in place that marks sugar levels in food, which she says is the biggest issue for children's health, using pictorial depictions of teaspoons of sugar.

"We've got 5000 children admitted each year for general anaesthetic in hospital to have teeth removed due to sugar. It's outrageous," she told the Paul Henry programme.

The Health Star Rating system was developed in 2014 for packaged foods in Australia and New Zealand, and uses algorithms to determine the overall nutritional value of products.

Ms Deeks says the system is flawed, and that products with a star value are seen as having been given an 'outright seal of approval', which she says is misleading.

She says the system is effectively government endorsement of packaged, processed food.

While Ms Deeks believes the Government may consider a sugar level labelling system, she says they are ignoring important health issues in processed food.

"I think [labelling sugar] is on the cards, but you've got additives and preservatives, and things that have been shown to affect children behaviourally. They're not talking about any of that, and of course they don't want to, because that would really expose the industries," she said.

New Zealand and Australia rank 3rd and 4th respectively in global obesity rankings, with 31 percent of adult New Zealanders and just under 28 percent of adult Australians considered obese.