Five years on, what’s next for the Health Star Rating on packaged foods?

Five Years On

Five years on, what’s next for the Health Star Rating on packaged foods?

Walk into the average supermarket today and you’ll face around 20,000 products. We are, quite literally, spoilt for choice. Labels on packaged foods are contested real estate: for the food industry, it’s marketing space. For governments, it’s a potential public health tool.

In 2014, Australia and New Zealand introduced the Health Star Rating system on the front of packaged foods as a simple, at-a-glance way to inform and guide consumers towards healthier choices. Using an algorithm, Health Stars rate foods from 0.5 to 5.0 based on overall nutritional quality. While George Institute research suggests the system is performing well overall, public attention has focused on high profile anomalies.

When the system was introduced Food Ministers agreed Health Stars would be subject to a formal five year review. As we await the outcomes of this review, researcher Alexandra Jones will reflect on findings from her PhD thesis and offer insight from joint advocacy with consumer and public health groups to highlight what changes are required to ensure Health Stars work for consumers, not just food companies.


  • Alexandra Jones: Research Fellow, Food Policy and Law

    Alexandra Jones is passionate about using law as a policy tool to improve health. Within The George Institute’s Food Policy team, she leads work on regulatory strategies to promote healthier diets. Ali has previously worked on global tobacco control, and in health and human rights. She holds law degrees from Sydney University and Georgetown Law Centre (Washington, D.C.) and in August 2019 submitted a PhD exploring the regulation of nutrition labelling globally. Ali was a member of the Health Star Rating Technical Advisory Group. Ali tweets about Australia’s Health Star Rating system, sugar taxes, and other policy tools to improve the food environment at @alikjones.

  • Simone Pettigrew: Program Head, Food Policy

    Simone Pettigrew has recently joined The George Institute for Global Health as Program Head, Food Policy. Until recently she was the Director of the Western Australian Cancer Prevention Research unit. Simone has been closely involved in food labelling policy work in Australia for more than a decade, initially as a member of COAG’s food labelling expert panel and more recently as a member of two federal government committees responsible for the implementation of the Health Star Rating system.