Dumped health food rating site reinstated

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash said the website had initially been pulled down over concerns that it had been launched before the community educational campaign and product availability had been complete.

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鈥淚 was concerned that people would walk into supermarkets [and] there would be absolutely nothing on the shelves; and that there would be a level of confusion that would lead to not enabling this system to be successful,鈥?she said.

When the site was pulled down in February, Ms Nash was questioned about the influence of the junk food industry on the decision after it was revealed that her then senior government aide was married to the head of a lobby group working for the industry.

Ms Nash said the timing is now right to reinstate the website.

鈥淚t’s very much been a collaborative effort over recent months to make sure we get the timing right,鈥?she said.

鈥淚n terms of the launch, we needed to make sure we had an educational campaign going out there that was going to tell people what the system is and how it was going to work.鈥?br />

The website has the backing of the Australian state and federal governments as well the New Zealand government.

For the first five years, the healthy star system will be voluntary.

“It’s been made a voluntary system because there is an understanding that it takes some time for companies to make the effective change,” Assistant Minister Nash said.

Public Health Association head Michael Moore welcomed the move.

“It’s been a rocky road to get here, but we actually have a world first,” he said at the website鈥檚 launch.

“We need people to think about the food that they’re choosing, and [get them] to select the most nutritious food – and the system helps them do it.”

The Heart Foundation also welcomed the reinstatement of the website, hailing it as a significant step in tackling the 63 per cent of the population that is obese or overweight.

“This star system will help drive food reformulation, which will help reduce salt, fat and sugar in some of the more popular products in supermarkets,” Heart Foundation chief executive Mary Barry said at the launch.