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New Zealand rolls out nutrition label rating system

Staff writer |
New Zealand's new label rating system is set to make reading nutrition labels easier and clearer when buying and choosing food.

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The initiative is part of the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan launched in October 2015 and aims to help people make better informed and healthier food choices.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew lauded the Health Star Rating awareness campaign, saying that it is more important now as being overweight or obese is expected to overtake tobacco as the leading preventable risk to health in New Zealand in the next 12 months.

“We’re now one of the first OECD countries to have a target and a comprehensive plan,” he said.

The voluntary labelling system uses star ratings of ½ to 5 stars to measure the overall nutritional content and healthiness of packaged foods. Foods that are lower in saturated fat, sugar or sodium (salt), and or higher in fiber, protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts or legumes will have more stars.

The Health Minister said there is strong support from manufacturers and retailers for the labelling system. In fact, around 1,000 products with Health Star Ratings are now on supermarket shelves.

The ratings are also expected to encourage manufacturers to reformulate their products to improve their "star rating" which leads to healthier products being available to consumers.

The Health Promotion Agency, Ministry of Primary Industries, and Ministry of Health have worked together on the awareness campaign, which will run until June 2018.

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