Citrus Australia Wants Juice Rating Reconsidered

Ernie NeffInternational, Orange Juice

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Citrus Australia

Citrus Australia says the country’s state governments “will be asked to bring common sense to the Health Star Rating (HSR) system” at a meeting in November. The rating system currently rates diet soft drinks as healthier than fresh Australian juice.

Industry bodies have contacted Senator Richard Colbeck, chair of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, asking for a new vote on an automatic 4 Star Rating for fresh Australian juice. The forum is the body behind the HSR system; every Australian state and territory government, as well as the Australian and New Zealand federal governments, is represented on the forum. The forum in July rejected a proposal to retain fresh juice’s 5-star rating; learn more here.

Groups that have already leant their support to a fresh vote include the National Farmers Federation, AusVeg, Apple and Pear Australia, the NFF Hort Council, Passionfruit Australia, Mangoes Australia and Summerfruit Australia.

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“The Health Star Rating system is telling consumers that diet cola is a healthier product to drink than fresh Australian juice, and the majority of our state governments, some of which benefit greatly from our juice industries, agreed,” Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said.

Hancock said the November meeting would be an excellent opportunity to revisit “the absurdity” of the current HSR ratings.

“The promotion of diet cola over fresh juice aside, the changes also contradict the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG), which places fresh juice in the ‘eat more of’ category,” Hancock stated. “There are allowances in the ADG for the substitution of fruit juice for a whole piece of fruit in the diet.”

Hancock said consumption of fruit and vegetables continues to fall among Australians, with the latest statistics showing just 5 percent of all Australians over age 18 consume the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. “Effectively labeling fresh juice with no added sugar as ‘unhealthy’ would hinder any chance of stopping this decline,” Hancock said.

“We fear any decline in sales under this false premise would also hasten the demise of not only the Australian orange juice industry, which has already seen a 30 percent decrease in the production base over the last 18 years, but many other horticulture industries as well,” Hancock said.

Source: Citrus Australia

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