Juices ranked lower than diet softdrinks

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1 January – a new year, a new you? Or at least a new day and a fresh start. You reach for a juice – a healthy fresh fruit juice with no added sugar.

Regret to inform, we have some bad news for you. 

The health star rating (HSR) for 100 per cent no-added-sugar juices has been cut from five stars to as low as two. Diet soda gets a better rating and there’s not a lot of nutrition in a diet soda.

Unsurprisingly, fruit and vegie growers are aghast.

Citrus Australia chief executive Nathan Hancock was angry and upset by the decision.

“It sends a really poor message to our consumers, who, let’s face it, need to have more fruit and vegetables,” he told the ABC.

“Being told that diet soda is better for them than a juice product, we think, is confusing.”

The health star rating system, which rates food from half a star to five stars, is being refined and tweaked as part of a five-year review. The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, a group of state and territory ministers, has been considering the ratings but opted not to give 100 per cent fresh fruit and vegetable juice an automatic four-star rating despite a push by federal agriculture minister David Littleproud.

“What I don’t accept is the insanity of this decision, which really has no basis on nutritional value – it really just is mind-numbingly dumb,” he said.

“It would appear that our bureaucrats are working off some other scientific sheet …”

Sugar is at the heart of the problem.

Mr Hancock said: “The message that they (the forum) have been giving us is that they want people to drink more water, because it’s better for hydration, and they want to take sugar out of the diet.

“Because diet soft drinks have artificial sugars, it elevates them above juices which have natural sugars.”

But he argued that the forum had overlooked the nutritional benefits of juices and that the war on sugar was painting every type of sugar in a bad light.

“The desire to stamp sugar out of the consumer’s diet has been misconstrued and taken off in a different direction,” he said.

“There’s so many other products consumers are eating these days, unwittingly eating sugar – it’s added sugar, it’s not naturally in the product.”

Mr Hancock said he was unsure how many people based their purchases on the HSR, but was concerned there would be a knock-on effect.

“If you do use that system and you let it guide you in the choices that you make, then you’re going to be given a bum steer here.

“The other effect is that producers will stop using the HSR system on their products.

“They don’t have any faith in it, they don’t trust it – it’s sending a poor message to the consumer and I think we’ll see businesses stop using it.”

Jeff Knispel, joint managing director of Nippy’s group of companies, said it had decided to remove the HSR from its packaging to limit the negative impact.

He suggested that if the forum continued to focus on sugar, products should be given a sugar star rating.

Are you a fruit juice fan? Are you guided by health star ratings? Do you check the sugar contents of products?

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Total Comments: 14
  1. 2

    Classic example of “ Bureaucratic Manipulation “..we see it all the time,( just look at the so called social justice system and our universities, the list just goes on)
    Sure , highlight the dangers of too much sugar intake but at least add some balance by including the other benefits available.

  2. 0

    the amount of sugar added to everything is a health hazard how can things like juices be healthy ?? the only way to make it healthy is to make it yourself ( be sure to give the fruit and vegies a good wash first, ………… pesticides and insecticides etc. any wonder cancers etc. are on the rise our whole food chain is poisoned

  3. 2

    Yes fruit and vegetables have lots of benefits, not least the fibre content which is removed when they are juiced.
    There is also the matter of sugar. Yes they are natural sugars in both but the sugar is fructose which has been shown both scientifically and demonstrated by the increasing waistlines of Australians, young and old, to cause weight gain.
    No one is obliged to heed any of the recommendations but the government does have a public duty to inform us.
    As a recently retired health worker I can vouch for the devastation caused by the rapidly increasing obesity rate and the burden on hospitals and the tax payer of the many, many, many chronic health conditions resulting from obesity and poor diet.
    So let’s not get all self righteous about what is just and right and let’s consider the cold hard facts.
    There is nothing wrong with drinking fruit and vegetable juice. The important factor is the amount, the frequency and not replacing water with these juices.
    Educate yourselves on the calorie and carb/ sugar content of what you are drinking.

    • 1

      Yet more misinformation being promulgated here flippit. There is absolutely nothing bad about fructose when consumed in its natural form i.e. within fruit and vegetables encased in its coating of vitamins, minerals and fibre. In fact you would be hard pushed to have a well balanced diet if you intend to avoid all foods with fructose since that would ne virtually no fruit or vegetables at all. You see how ridiculous those pronouncing against fructose really are?

      Fruit juice are actually not that nutritious in any case. They are a concentrated source of energy which most people don’t need. Nothing to do with fructose, far more to do with the removal of the fibre that moderates consumption (you did mention fibre I give you that). Even juicing the fruit yourself is no better since to make even a small glass of juice you need to use several pieces of fruit that you would probably never sit and eat in one sitting. Parents are misguided in giving young children fruit juice in a bottle rather than soft drinks thinking it is healthier. Have a chat to your dentist about that one.

      I can understand the food industry kicking off over this and to most people it seems odd to say the least. But fruit juice is not that healthy a product. Eat the whole fruit and veg. You get the juice and a whole heap of other benefits too.

  4. 1

    Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. Most fruit juices are very high in sugar, because most fruits are high in sugar. Once again everything in moderation. The thing that peeves me, is that our friends at the large supermarkets, (who care so much about our health) consistently increase the price of mineral water and soda water, the so-called healthy alternative to soft drinks and fruit juices. It’s great to have someone looking after you. Jacka.

    • 0

      Having worked for a wholesale distributor that supplies products to independently owned supermarkets, mini-marts etc for 40 years and sometimes opening mail that didn’t have a person’s name on it I can assure you that most of the price increases are a result of the manufacturers increasing their prices. One particular company increased its prices in January every year. I won’t name the company here for fear of Your Life Choices getting into trouble. The price increases are beyond belief. Sometimes the price of bread increases because the cost of packaging increases and the bakeries have to cover their costs. I was told by somebody who works in a bakery how much the bags and tags cost them a few years ago. I hate to think what they cost now.

  5. 0

    The Health Star labels on any food or drinks are often very misleading. They are usually high in carbohydrates (they convert to sugar), salt or fats. One artificial sweetener used in Diet Cola – Aspartane has been proved to cause kidney damage, including Cancer on the kidney. You don’t have to drink much of it to cause it either. Some specialists actually call it “black death”. In some cases they can remove the Cancer without removing the kidney but it bruises the kidney.

  6. 1

    Sugar, fructose and diet soda. Understanding what they are and what is good for your body is paramount to ensuring your body receives relevant nutrients. Number one is sugar: processed sugar is best avoided at all times. There are many alternatives, look for the least processed and most nutritional. As I have a fructose malabsorption and acidic issue my preferred sweetener is Coconut Sugar. Other sweeteners include Maple Syrup, Honey etc. Fresh fruit has been give a bad name recently due to the discovery of ‘fructose’. whereas it was two serves a day in the food hierarchy pyramid. Fresh fruit and vegetables are best, like everything else, in moderation, also essential for maintaining a healthy body. ‘Diet’ anything, that has artificial sweeteners or fillers is best avoided unless on medical advice. Do your own research to find how artificial sweeteners are made/processed and what natural sweeteners are available. Identify who is writing the article and if they have a bias to the product they are writing about. Read the labels on everything before making a purchase, not just what’s on the front to get your attention. Read what’s included in packaged and processed food and drink. While they may be handy to have in the pantry for occasional use and convenience, fresh is best. Be aware not every ingredient may be listed on the packaging.

  7. 0

    In answer to Nancy McAlary on Facebook, whilst activity and exercise are important, you simply cannot outrun a bad diet. Becoming less active (or more sedentary) is not the real reason we have got fatter.

    Back in the day (1950s) most of what is in our supermarkets today did not exist. People ate smaller portions from smaller plates and meals were based on unprocessed natural foods cooked at home. Treat foods were exactly that, treats eaten mainly on high days and holidays, not everyday and not between meals (no hot cross buns on Boxing Day back then) . A lot more seasonal eating was done because you just couldn’t get things out of season. But as transport improved, planes rather than ships became the main transport for trade between countries. This meant suddenly more foods became more available. As the war receded, people were wealthier than ever, eating out became more popular (and not just on special occasions). Food manufacturing escalated, and as has become the norm, where America leads the rest of the world follows. The introduction of both margarine and high fructose corn syrup (an attempt to find a cheaper alternative for butter and an attempt to shore up the livelihoods of the USA corn farmers in an extended glut) lead to these being added very liberally to many foods. Not to mention the introduction of pre-prepared convenience foods (all of which contained high amounts of HFCS and hydrogenated fats) trained most people onto an over sweet diet.

    Sugar in and of its self is not a bad thing; think sugar cane when you chew the stalk, or honey from the hive. Both are seasonal (like all fruit and veg) and difficult to get in nature therefore naturally limiting the amount available to most people. Strip away the natural packaging and it becomes a problem. Increase portion size (mainly to give an illusion of value for money), increase plate size (we tend to fill -and clear – the plate we have), easy access to foods round the clock – many with little nutritional value – and it is not hard to see where the obesity epidemic came from. One interesting point though, even as added sugar consumption has been decreasing, the incidence of obesity has been rising. So in a sense the food manufacturers have a point about not demonising sugar. Sugar is part of the problem but there are many other elements that make up the whole.

  8. 0

    Saw it 30 years ago in new suburb intersections controlled by lights the 4 main fast food outlets have stores and being drive through you lost stuff all time,your body is a temple and you are what you eat,you should be eating natural sugars and none of the other

  9. 0

    If we went to the days of ‘make-your-own’, then people wouldn’t be likely to purchase it ready-made at the supermarket.

    As we grow older, then we have more time in our lives to ‘make-our-own’ and then after breakky or whatever meal we have the juices with, then we wash up the machine. There’s plenty of them out there making our lives ‘better’.

  10. 1

    Bureaucratic dickheads – fresh fruit juice contains natural sugars, diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and if you google health risks of that, you’d never go near the stuff even if it has gained official approval. https://usrtk.org/sweeteners/aspartame_health_risks/
    I’d sooner squeeze an orange to drink, or squeeze a lime or lemon on my seafood!

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