11 Nov 2013

Star rating system for food could benefit primary industry sector

6:34 am on 11 November 2013

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says food labelling using a star rating system could benefit the primary industry sector in New Zealand.

The star system effectively rates the nutritional value of a product.

The minister announced last week a voluntary star rating system would be the focus of research as to how effective it could be and what consumers think about it.

Ms Kaye says it's important consumers have the best possible information about making healthier eating choices which is why the New Zealand Front of Pack Labelling Advisory Group decided the system should be looked into.

She says the system could have flow-through benefits for the primary sector.

Research is underway but Ms Kaye says there is not yet agreement at this stage to adopt a system.

"If we do you know it's in line with overall brand I think as a country of being transparent and open about what's in our food, so I do think ultimately there could be potential value in that."

The star rating system is currently being worked on in Australia.

Ms Kaye says a voluntary and not mandatory system is going to be the focus of research.

She says regulation is developed with Australia through Food Standards Australia New Zealand and there's a very clear process to make anything mandatory.

Ms Kaye says at least at this stage research is underway to look at a voluntary system and it's success would depend on working with companies.

She says some companies will automatically buy into the scheme because they are selling healthy products, while potentially other companies may make their products healthier to get the star rating and gain a market advantage.