While the onus of buying and eating healthy foods is certainly on the consumer, there is one particular range of home brand products that are healthier than those from other major supermarkets.
According to research from The George Institute, if you’re a Woolworths weekly shopper (on a budget), chances are you’re healthier than a Coles, Aldi or IGA home brand buyer.
The George Institute for Global Health’s annual FoodSwitch: The State of the Food Supply report, released on Wednesday, showed yet again that ‘The Fresh Food People’ topped the poll for healthy home brand products.
According to the federal government’s Health Star Rating system, 59 per cent of Woolies’ branded products hit a ‘healthy’ rank of 3.5 stars or higher.
Coles came in second with around half of its products deemed ‘healthy’, with Aldi (43 per cent) and IGA (41 per cent) filling out the big four.
While Woolworths’ can boast the best branded products, the report says there is plenty of room for improvement across supermarket and independent brands, and the big supermarkets can do more to positively influence shoppers’ health and wellbeing.
“Sadly, we’ve seen little to no improvement in the healthiness of the big four’s own brand ranges in the 12 months since we last conducted this analysis and we know they have the capability to do so much more,” said George Institute accredited practising dietitian Daisy Coyle.
The institute says shoppers should be wary of ultra-processed food and drinks, which are linked to increased mortality and generally bad health outcomes.
Aldi’s label was the worst offender in the ultra-processed product arena, followed IGA and Coles, then Woolworths.
Sanitarium, Nudie Foods and a2 Milk were declared the top three healthiest brands with beverages companies Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, and Frucor Suntory, the company behind products like V energy drink, Ribena and Lucozade, at the bottom of the list.
The food star rating system assesses the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns health ratings from a half star to five stars.
It’s had its share of critics, with public health experts expressing concern over its efficacy and the fact that the ratings system only applies to packaged food.
It’s also not a mandatory system.
Currently, according to the report, only 41 per cent of eligible products displayed the rating.
And it’s usually only displayed by products with good scores.
Consumer advocate CHOICE and The George Institute have both called on the government to make the ratings system mandatory for all packaged foods in Australian supermarkets.
Do you follow food ratings? Are you a Woolies shopper? Or do you favour one of the ‘unhealthier’ supermarkets?
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