I got seriously excited when the Heart Foundation started updating some of the appallingly terrible information on their website and announced they were reviewing the infamous Tick of Approval program which we spent years campaigning against, more info here.
I was over zealous and thought it would be the end of the low fat, highly processed era and the start of a new one, where real food was celebrated and promoted as shock horror, healthy, but also delicious.
I was wrong, and damn it was crushing, to the point where I sat in my sorrows and gave up trying to change the system, but I can’t help myself, I’m a born disruptor and I have to keep fighting, especially because I don’t want my kids to grow up and try to pull the wool over my eyes because my own Government tells them that freaking MILO is healthier than a piece of Salmon (I shit you not).
Milo and other Milo related products receive 4.5 out of 5 stars in this new Government endorsed rating system.
The ingredients of Milo are-
Extract of malted barley, milk solid, sugar, cocoa vegetable oil [containing one or more of the following: palm oil, palm olein, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, whey, corn oil, soya oil] whey ACTIGEN-E [dicalcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate ascorbic acid, vitamin pp, ferric pyrophosphate, calcium-d-pantothenate, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B1, D-biotin, vitamin B12, disodium phosphate, vanillin, maltodextrin.
Tasmanian smoked salmon on the other hand received 2 stars. Presumably because it’s a real food and contains some real fat????
Yes I know there are problems in relation to salmon farming and it’s not an ideal food when it isn’t sourced ethically and sustainably from the wild but seriously.. that’s just one example..I literally feel myself going into a full blown rage attack and cannot FATHOM how the Government is getting away with it, yet they are.
I even wrote to Choice on the topic.
This was their response..
“Thanks for getting in touch. The Health Star Rating Scheme has been developed in a government-led process with considerable input from public health and industry groups, including CHOICE. We back the criteria because they reflect the best dietary advice available to consumers. While food and nutrition are areas in which people have strong views and there is certainly a diversity of opinion as to what is best, the Health Star Rating Calculator has been designed to reflect the Australian Dietary Guidelines, and has the support of leading nutrition experts.
The Health Star Rating calculator takes into account four key aspects of a food associated with increasing the risk factors for chronic disease: energy, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars. Before assigning a star rating it also takes into consideration certain ‘positive’ aspects of a food, including its fruit, vegetable, nut and legume (FVNL) content – all valuable sources of a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A food’s protein and dietary fibre content are also taken into account in some cases.
The Health Star Rating Scheme was designed to interpret nutrient information, not purity. Including chemicals and additives in the algorithm that produces the ratings would be very difficult, as well as change the purpose. We know that food additives are a major concern for many consumers but the Health Star Rating is about the nutritional profile of the food. Having said this, we can certainly take on board your concerns in our food content and campaigning. Kind regards, CHOICE”
Disappointing to say the least. This was my response.
They then proceed to throw a bunch of studies at me about fat and salt still being the bad guys, I replied with-
Ok, I am not by any means recommending that we all consume 5 tablespoons of coconut oil with bacon and a teaspoon of salt for breakfast lunch and dinner, but both natural fats and sodium are essential for life to be sustained (see breastmilk as an example). Simply herein lies the problem. Nestle No Fat, No Sugar “Soleil” (they can’t even call the stuff yoghurt) which has a 5 star healthy rating, the highest rating a product can receive. The ingredients are SKIM MILK, WATER, FRUIT (7.1%)(PEACH (4.6%), MANGO PUREE (2.5%)), MILK SOLIDS, THICKENERS (1442 (FROM TAPIOCA), 452, 407), GELATINE, FLAVOUR, ACIDITY REGULATORS (296, 331), SWEETENERS (951, 950), PRESERVATIVE (202), COLOUR (160B), ENZYME (LACTASE), LIVE CULTURES (CONTAINS B. LACTIS) Then take Jalna Whole Milk Yoghurt- the ingredients are whole milk, live cultures. This product received 2.5 stars. So do you agree with the rating system based on the above?
Hi Jessie, we back the Health Star Rating criteria because they reflect the Australian Dietary Guidelines, and have the support of leading nutrition experts. As we mentioned previously, the Health Star Rating scheme was designed to interpret nutrient information, not purity. Including chemicals and additives in the algorithm that produces the ratings would be very difficult, as well as change the purpose. The Health Star Ratings are not an indication of how natural a product is – the best way to judge this is by looking at the ingredients list, as you have done for the two yoghurt products.
Sooooooooo they agree that the best way to judge how natural a product is is to look at the ingredients list, yet still back the Health Star Rating system because it is designed to reflect the Australian Dietary Guidelines..
Honestly it is really, really exhausting battling this stuff..
I just cannot fathom that common sense simply does not prevail or count for anything in this equation.
Another example is Up & Go’s Reduced Fat, Choc Ice which contains filtered water, skim milk powder, wheat maltodextrin, cane sugar, soy protein, vegetable oils (sunflower, canola), hi-maize™ starch, inulin, cocoa (0.7%), flavours, oat flour, mineral (calcium), food acid (332), vegetable gums (460, 466, 407), stabiliser (452), salt, vitamins (C, niacin, A, B12, B6, B2, B1, folate) and also receives FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS.
This is the description of the program on the NESTLE website- who claim they are the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company (a sick joke within itself and a rant for another day).
“The Health Star Rating is a government led initiative that scores the nutritional value of packaged foods. It is designed to help consumers compare foods so they can make healthier choices when shopping within a category.
The health star rating is from ½ star up to 5 stars. The more stars the healthier the choice. Simple.”
Unfortunately the program achieves the exact OPPOSITE of its intended purpose. Favouring products lower in fat and sugar by giving products full of articifial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, numbers and flavours a higher rating.
Nutrition is unfortunately not this simple, just because something is lower in fat, sugar, sodium and energy and higher in fibre, protein or calcium for example DOES NOT MAKE IT A HEALTHY CHOICE OR EVEN CONDUCIVE TO SUCCESSFULLY MANAGING WEIGHT.
Humans are beyond arrogant, they think if they can calculate and measure specific levels fat, sugar, sodium, energy and fibre, boom, health sorted, no need to worry about ingredients.
We feel to recognise every cell in our body requires NUTRIENTS, in order for our body to function including the sodium/potassium pump we require SODIUM, in order for our hormones, cells, brain and sexual function to work we require traditional, healthy FAT from natural sources.
For more studies and information relating to the importance of fat and salt check out the following links
It’s enough to make me want to throat punch myself.
Bottom line it makes me sick to my stomach that while our Government busy themselves cashing in on deals with massive processed food companies, children are growing up thinking that if they are eating highly processed food with a 5 star rating they are being healthy.
I have two young boys and I cannot possibly allow this kind of thing to be promoted. I want my children to grow up knowing that fresh, whole food, things that grow in the ground and move around will nourish their bodies. Food that is prepared without unnecessary ingredients, loads of sugar, inflammatory “vegetable” or seed oils, and a list a mile long of processed, synthetic ingredients. There is a difference between a treat now and then and these foods actively being promoted as healthy!
Why don’t the Government invest in supporting local farmers, subsiding and educating and promoting fresh vegetables, fruit and well looked after animal products. Why don’t we have low cost cooking classes and educational seminars? Community gardens and chook pens in every neighbourhood for fresh eggs?
Food CAN be cheap and accessible. Every family deserves fresh, quality food and deserve to know what they are feeding themselves and their kids. Stop green washing the packaged rubbish and start having an honest, transparent and open relationship with the food system.
You are already costing the economy billions in health care. It’s time to turn it around, take some responsibility for the things you are promoting and take a stand for the next generation. Your kids, loved ones, parents and grandparents deserve better than this!!!!
Please join us in signing and sharing the NEW petition to scrap the unhealthy star rating system, if you supported the original Heart Foundation petition we thank you but now need your help on this one.