Sally and Jane both went to the supermarket to stock up on a few items that they usually purchase. They are both very busy women and like to get in and out of the supermarket as quick as they can. They grab products and brands they know and that they have used in the past. Their shopping basket looked something like this:
As you can see they both purchased very similar items just different brands. The following day both Sally and Jane consumed their tub of yoghurt, 1 oat slice bar, 50g of their oat cereal, 2 slices of the bread they purchased, 1 jam biscuit, 100ml of their pesto sauce and 100ml of ice cream. You would assume that because they ate comparable foods that their nutrition intake for the day would be fairly similar…. Well that’s where you’re wrong. After consuming the items listed above Sally and Jane’s nutritional intake looked like this:
CALORIES – 2067 1189
FAT – 122.4g 51g
SATURATED FAT – 42.8g 15.7g
SUGAR – 97.1g 63.7g
After eating pretty much the same food just different brands Sally consumed 42% more calories, 58% more fat, 63% more saturated fat and 34% more sugar than Jane. They are both busy women who grab the items they are familiar with. They don’t have time to compare nutrition labels and if they did they wouldn’t exactly know what to be looking for. They weren’t to know that similar food products can have very different nutritional profiles.
This is why we need the front of pack Health Star System. The development of the Health Star System is currently underway by a working group consisting of representatives from food industry, consumer and public health groups.
The star system will be placed on the front of packaged foods which will be awarded half to 5 stars based on the ‘healthiness’ of the product. The products calorie content, total and saturated fat, sugar, sodium and nutritional content will all be taken into account when awarded stars. Consumers will be able to quickly glance at products and compare them straight away by looking at how many stars they receive.
It was initially expected that food industry would be utilising the system by June 2014 but it seems that is not the case. When the system will become operational is unknown but the sooner the better in my opinion! The system will be implemented on a voluntary basis and if the uptake is poor may become mandatory. If consumers start to purchase healthier options based on the star system it may even influence manufactures to produce healthier products –which will be a win win for everyone!
The system isn’t fool proof but it’s certainly a step in the right direction to help people make informed and easier healthy choices.