As we browse the supermarket aisles, we now have more choices than ever – but that can make choosing even harder. For many of us, the price will be the deciding factor, but where does the nutritional value of a product fit in? How do we know one pasta sauce is healthier than another without analysing each label in detail? The simple answer to this is the Health Star Rating.
The Health Star Rating system is a Government initiative. Food manufacturers can put the symbol on the front of their product packs, but because its use is voluntary, you won’t see it everywhere.
The rating takes into account a range of nutrients, including energy, saturated fat, sugars, sodium, protein, dietary fibre, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. It doesn’t include other properties such as wholegrain content or additives (preservatives, colours and flavours), so for now, you can check these only on the ingredient list. The calculation gives us a health rating of 0.5 to 5 stars. Look out for the symbol, and be sure to compare the ratings of similar products. The higher its rating, the healthier the choice – it’s that easy!
The key to using the Health Star Rating correctly is to use the symbol by comparing similar products only, those in the same category. For example, if you're looking at a food product on a supermarket shelf, compare it with other products above, below or beside it - it doesn't work if you compare it with products in a totally different aisle!
The Health Star Rating is also only intended for packaged products, not fresh food.
Only compare similar products