Changes to the health star rating for fruit and vegetable juices are on hold with the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation. It has been decided that a final decision will have to wait until February. This is due to the fact that growers are concerned by the fact that the forum has overlooked the nutritional benefits of no-added-sugar juices.
On Friday, fruit growers and federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud were furious at what Mr Littleproud described as a "mind-numbingly dumb" recommendation by the state ministers to press on with a plan to introduce health star ratings [HSR] based on sugar content.
Citrus Australia, the peak body for Australian growers, said it was "shocked and disappointed" that state health ministers had endorsed a HSR that "gives Diet Coke a higher rating than fresh Australian juice".
Littleproud said Friday's meeting was his last chance to prevent a decision to introduce a rating system that ‘has no basis on nutritional value’.
"This was it," he told abc.net.au. "This was my second crack at it. I had a go in July and got rolled and then rolled again."
"The forum supported a proposal for a minor adjustment to the HSR review calculator to address an anomaly. Diet beverages will now achieve no more than 3.5 stars," a forum statement reads, adding the adjustment was in line with Australian and New Zealand dietary guidelines.
The delay keeps alive Mr Littleproud's proposal last week that an automatic four-star rating apply to 100 per cent fruit and vegetable juices with no added sugar. That's a concession from July when his proposal for a five-star rating for such juices was rejected.