In June 2014, Australia and New Zealand adopted a voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme in the form of the Health Star Rating (HSR) system. Our aim was to assess its uptake in Australia while a formal five-year review of the system is underway. Numbers and proportions of products eligible to carry a HSR were recorded each year between 2014 and 2017 as part of an annual survey of four large Australian retail outlets. Mean HSR values were determined for products that were and were not labelled with a HSR logo, and summary data presented overall, by HSR score, by major food category, and for leading manufacturers. Results show that uptake is increasing: HSR appeared on 4348/15,767 (28%) of eligible products in 2017 and has now appeared on 7922 products since implementation. Of those products displaying a HSR logo, more than three-quarters (76.4%) displayed a HSR of ≥3.0. Products displaying a HSR logo had a higher mean HSR (3.4), compared to products not displaying a HSR logo (2.7). Uptake was highest on convenience foods (44%), cereals (36.7%), and fruit and vegetable products (35.9%). More than 100 manufacturers were using the system, but retailers Coles, Woolworths and Aldi were together responsible for 54% of uptake. For all except Coles, Woolworths and Campbell Arnott’s, the mean HSR of products displaying a logo on pack was higher than products made by that manufacturer not showing a HSR logo. We conclude that to ensure the consistent and widespread uptake required for consumers to make informed food purchases, HSR should be made mandatory at the conclusion of the five-year review.
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