Health rating call a blow to citrus growers

21st July 2020 | Eativity editors

Citrus Australia is “vastly disappointed” with the decision by state ministers to remove the 5-star rating for fresh juice with no added sugar under a revised Health Star Ratings system.

The Food Regulation Forum, comprising ministers from every Australian state and territory, met on Friday, July 17, and rejected Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s proposals to retain the current 5-star rating for juice.

Fresh juice has held a 5-star rating since the system was implemented in 2014. Under the revised system as it stands, diet cola would receive 4 stars and 100% fresh juice with no added sugar, preservatives or additions would receive 2½ stars.

Less healthy than diet cola? The new ratings say so.

Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock says the effective demonisation of fresh juice – a 100% natural product with no additives or preservatives – defies common sense.

“Under the revised HSR system as it stands, 100% fresh juice would receive fewer stars than diet cola which contains additives and preservatives and no nutritional benefits,” he says.

“The algorithm that underpins the new Health Star Ratings assesses fresh juice on sugar content alone and does not consider essential nutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium, folate, magnesium or antioxidants.”

Hancock says the new rating also contradicts the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which places fresh juice in the “eat more of” category. There are allowances in the guidelines for the substitution of fruit juice for a whole piece of fruit in the diet.

“Vitamin C contributes to immune defence, and one 125ml glass of fresh orange juice contains half the recommended daily intake of vitamin C,” he says.

Fresh juice with no sugar added should have a 5-star rating, says Minister David Littleproud.

Citrus Australia will continue to work with Australian growers to promote the health benefits of fresh juice to consumers and reassure them that the contents within the bottle have not changed, despite the new rating.

“We are genuinely concerned that the suggestion fresh fruit juice is unhealthy will have a detrimental health effect on the community, particularly in winter,” Hancock says.

Citrus Australia also acknowledges the support of Minister David Littleproud. The minister says he is disappointed that the forum has failed to recognise the nutritional benefits of 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar.

 “We were on the side our 800-million-dollar fruit juice industry and our nation’s 1900 citrus growers,” Littleproud says. “Looking at the results of the forum’s health star rating decision, I put in a proposal to get it reconsidered.

“It seemed obvious to me that that 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar should have a 5-star rating.”