Packaged food items will soon bear a ‘health star’ as part of the new system under the directions from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The system will be akin to the one used by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency for measuring the energy efficiency of electrical appliances.


Key highlights of health star rating (HSR) system

  • This system will be similar to the one that is being used by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency for assessing the energy efficiency in electrical devices.
  • The packaged foods will have number of stars displayed on them which will indicate whether the item is healthy or unhealthy.
  • The amount of fats, sugar, and salt in the food item will be used to determine the rating.
  • A study was conducted by IIM Ahmedabad regarding the methodology to be used to display the health ratings of the food items
  • The display of star ratings was recommended in this study as it would be easier for the customer to understand.
  • It has been decided that the ratings will be placed in front of the packets as studies show that th is method is much more effective towards affecting the choice of the consumer.

Consumers will soon be able to quickly spot how healthy, or unhealthy, and nutritious their food packet is. Packaged food items will soon bear a ‘health star’ as part of the new system under the directions from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The system will be akin to the one used by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency for measuring the energy efficiency of electrical appliances.

Packaged foods will display the number of stars, which will indicate how healthy or unhealthy the item is. The rating will be based on the amount of fats, sugar and salt present in the food item.

Star rating is among the five label types that were being considered to c onvey the nutritional information in a comprehensible manner. Other options included traffic light signs, nutrition scores and warning symbols.

“The study has recommended the star rating system based on consumers’ ease of understanding,” FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal told ET.

The study was conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in which over 20,000 individuals participated from major Indian states. The results were revealed on February 22.

“Among the two, HSR (health star rating) appears most acceptable, outdoing the nutrient specific formats on ease of understanding. HSR finds greater support among the Southern, Central and Western regions of the country,” reads the summary of the survey.

The importance of the front of pack label (FOPL) has been noted in studies towards better food and consumer choices than the back of pack label (BOPL). Though BOPL contains detailed nutritional information about food items, they are very rarely scanned by most individuals. The study highlighted that the easy availability of energy-dense foods has been a leading cause of non-communicable diseases and obesity in India which was the reason why FSSAI began to look for ways to inform consumers about the nutrition profile of foods.

What is a Health Star Rating?

This system will be similar to the one that is being used by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency for assessing the energy efficiency in electrical devices.

The Health Star Rating is a front-of-pack labelling system that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It provides a quick, easy, standard way to compare similar packaged foods. The more stars, the healthier the choice.

Why do we need a Health Star Rating?

Most products carry a Nutrition Information Panel which provides important information about the contents of the food. But as shoppers we are busy, so the Health Star Rating provides an easy way to compare similar packaged food and helps you make healthier choices.

Choosing foods that are higher in positive nutrients and lower in risk nutrients that are linked to obesity and diet-related chronic diseases; (saturated fat, sodium (salt), sugars and energy), will help contribute to a balanced diet and lead to better health.

How Health Star Ratings are calculated?

The number of stars is determined using a calculator designed to assess positive and risk nutrients in food. The amount of fats, sugar, and salt in the food item will be used to determine the rating.Food manufacturers and retailers are responsible for the correct and accurate use of the Health Star Rating system. This includes correctly calculating the Health Star Rating, accurately displaying nutrient information, ensuring consistency of information between the Health Star Rating and the Nutrition Information Panel, and complying with all relevant legislation and regulations.