It’s a glimpse at the ratings the federal government didn’t want you to see.
Consumer group Choice has used a new healthy food star-rating system – controversially pulled from a federal website by Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash – to uncover surprisingly large differences in the nutritional content of seemingly similar snack foods.
Choice Campaigns Manager Angela Cartwright said consumers would be shocked by the results, with a full 2½ stars out of five difference between similar products.
”It often comes down to whether they are cutting corners and using more saturated fat and sodium,” she said. ”These are products that kids are eating in playgrounds around Australia every day, and people have a right to know.”
Choice compared three products from food giant Mondelez with similar products, after Mondelez called the system ”ill-founded, unscientific and confusing”.
Choice found its Kraft Strip Cheese received only two out of five stars, compared with Bega’s Stringers, which got 4½ stars. Its Ritz Crackers got half a star, compared with Arnott’s Jatz Original, which got two stars.
Mondelez has been drawn into the controversy surrounding Senator Nash’s closure of the food star-rating website, after it was revealed her chief of staff was involved and was also a co-owner of a lobbying firm that worked for the brand.
Ms Cartwright said her group wanted to see what impact the rating would have on companies that had been critical of it. ”The health stars shot down the Mondelez product each time,” she said.
Senator Nash has said she intervened in the state and territory-controlled website because it would be confusing for consumers when the stars were still being rolled out. But she said she still plans for the system to begin in the middle of the year.
A spokeswoman for Mondelez International said the system would mislead consumers and make labels more confusing.
”Given the health star-rating shows that Philadelphia Cream Cheese is healthier than an apple, we believe that more work needs to be done,” she said.
”The algorithm which determines the number of stars on a product has changed numerous times and is expected to change again, so the results of this Choice test should be used with caution.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.