Manufacturers including Kellogg have come under fire from Australian consumer advocacy group Choice for “gaming” the country’s front-of-pack Health Star Rating system.
Introduced in 2014, the Health Star Rating system ranks the nutritional profiles of processed food products out of five stars.
Choice claims shoppers are being confused by a prominent panel of the side of packs of Kellogg cereals that explains how the Health Star Rating system works.
Example Star Rating
The Kellogg’s panel has featured a sample Star Rating of 3.5 stars – labelled ‘example only’ – regardless of the Star Rating of the product. For example, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes Clusters scores two stars - and this is stated on the front of pack - but the example panel reads 3.5 stars.
“Clearly this is confusing to consumers and we believe is more about ‘health washing’ than helping consumers make an informed choice,” claimed Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey.
Kellogg told BakeryAndSnacks it is updating all its packaging so the side-of-pack example matches what is shown on front of pack, a process it said it started late last year.
“This has already been done for brands such as Nutri-Grain and Sultana Bran, with changes progressively rolled out across the range,” added a spokesman. “Retailers take time to sell through packaging, so instances where old and new packaging overlap does occur. We have been making updates since late last year.
‘Tighter guidelines needed’
Choice said it would like to see tighter guidelines around the use of the health Star System, stating it would be collecting consumers feedback on the subject.
Godfrey added that breakfast cereal manufacturers had appeared more willing to adopt the system than businesses in other categories, particularly bakery.