National News

Food rating boost for canned fruit, veg

Fruit and vegetables that are fresh, frozen or canned without added fat, sugars or salt are set to get the top health rating.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, meeting in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, considered a landmark report on the health star rating system.

The ministers agreed the voluntary system, which provides a star rating from 0.5 to 5, is a useful tool to assist consumers in making healthy food choices and should continue with some amendments.

Among the recommendations are allowing some canned and frozen fruit and vegetables to automatically get the "5 star" rating, increasing the rating of some yoghurts and cheeses while reducing others, and strengthening the negative impact of total sugars and high salt levels in the rating calculator.

A communique issued after the meeting said the ministers "noted and agreed that for some minimally processed foods such as canned and frozen fruits and vegetables having a 5-star rating may be beneficial to consumers".

More work was agreed on the rating of edible oils.

The ministers also sought a report on the labelling and naming of plant-based alternatives to animal-derived products - such as almond "milk" - over fears consumers could be misled.

© AAP 2019