Top cereals aren’t as healthy as star rating indicates: Choice

Stock image.
Stock image.

Some top-selling cereals that have four out five health stars plummet to just 1.5 when added sugars are factored in, Choice says.

The consumer advocacy group has released modelling showing top-selling cereals can plunge from four out of five health stars, to just 1.5 stars, when added sugar is factored in.

It says the system must be changed so products with lots of added sugar are penalised accordingly.

The star rating system was introduced so consumers could compare similar products, and make healthier choices at a glance.

But Choice says high-ranking products, particularly breakfast cereals, are not all they’re cracked up to be.

The group’s modelling shows Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain and Nestle’s Milo cereal lose 2.5 of their four stars when added sugar is properly accounted for.

“Right now, the health star rating algorithm treats all sugars the same … it doesn’t distinguish between extra sugar that’s added to foods like breakfast cereals and naturally occurring sugars in dairy or fruits,” Choice food expert Linda Przhedetsky says.

“We’re calling for health ministers introduce added sugar labelling on all packaged foods and to ensure that added sugar is more heavily penalised.”

Choice also wants the health stars system to be mandatory for all food and drinks.

And it wants a guarantee that industry is not having undue influence over policies around food labelling.