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Tick and Health Stars working together

Now that more products with the Health Star Rating are beginning to appear on supermarket shelves, you may be wondering what this means for the Heart Foundation Tick.

How does the Tick and Health Star rating system work together to make it easier to make healthy food choices.

Early last year, the Government announced that New Zealand would be adopting Australia’s (voluntary) Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling system. The ‘Health Star Food Rating’ system is designed to make it quicker and easier for consumers to make better-informed, healthy choices. 

While some products may only have Stars, others may only have the Tick or Two Ticks. Alternatively, you might see some products carrying both or neither of the two symbols. The reason for this is that both front-of-pack labelling initiatives are voluntary; companies can choose to adopt the Health Star Rating and/or register with the Tick programme. It is not compulsory.

This blog explains how the Tick and Health Stars can work together to make it even easier for Kiwis to make healthier food choices.

The Health Star Rating system uses a rating scale of ½ to 5 stars, just like the energy efficiency stars you see on whiteware. It can be used on most packaged food products for retail sale. A higher number of stars indicates better nutritional value. The number of stars associated with each food is calculated using an algorithm that considers the product’s overall nutritional value - not just one nutrient, such as sugar or fat.

The Tick Programme can be used alongside, and will complement, the Health Star Rating system. While the Tick continues to help you identify healthier food choices within specific categories, Two Ticks signposts core foods for a healthy diet. Products with the Tick or Two Ticks must meet our strict, category-specific nutrient criteria.

While they are complementary, the Health Star Rating system and Tick Programme are also different from one another, as explained below. 

Tick Programme:

- A two-tier system:
Tick focuses on 60 specific food categories
Two Ticks identifies core foods for a healthy diet
Focuses on category-specific nutrient criteria to help consumers identify healthier choices within a food category
Voluntary but aims to drive positive reformulation in specific food categories e.g. reduction of trans-fats in margarines and sodium in breads
Tick Programme is endorsed and administered by the Heart Foundation 

Health Star Rating system

- Applies across all foods and beverages in six broad categories
Considers four negative aspects of food content: energy, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars. It also looks at certain positive aspects of food, such as fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content, and protein and dietary fibre
Voluntary, also aims to drive reformulation to healthier (more stars) profiles
Self-administered by food companies
Overseen by government

Together, the Tick programme and Health Star Rating system can help you make healthier food choices for you and your family. Both Two Ticks and the Health Star Rating system are relatively new initiatives. That means you will see more products appearing on shelves over time as food companies jump on board.

More information on the Health Star Rating System can be found on the Ministry of Primary Industry website.