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May 24, 2022
February 13, 2024

What is the Health Star Rating (HSR) system and what does it mean for packaged food brands?

Mrignayni Pandey

What is the Health Star Rating (HSR) system and what does it mean for packaged food brands?

May 24, 2022
February 13, 2024
Mrignayni Pandey


20% of children and 13% of adults around the world are obese and it’s one of the leading factors for premature death around the world.

To combat obesity and ensure that people make healthier choices, countries around the world are implementing Health Star Rating (HSR) systems to visually represent how healthy a food item is.

India is the latest country to join this bandwagon as improper lifestyle and diet choices have caused more than 77 million people to be affected with diabetes.  

The country’s statutory body Food Safety And Standards Authority Of India (FSSAI) has decided to adopt Health Star Ratings (HSR) for packaged food from February 2022 to promote healthier food choices.

So, let’s understand what this health rating system means and how it will affect FMCG brands across the world.

What is the Health Star Rating (HSR)?

The Health Star Rating (HSR) System is a system which assigns every packaged food product a rating between half a star and five stars based on the amount of salt, sugar, and fat present in it. The healthier the product, the more stars it’ll get and the number of stars assigned will be printed on the front of the label. So, a packaged food item with high protein content, vitamins, and low sugar and salt will gain more stars compared to a chips packet loaded with salt.

Many countries like Australia, Peru, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico and Hungary have adopted the FoPL system and found great success in it. Out of these countries, Australia and New Zealand have implemented a HSR system for packaged food products.

Now, India is following suit after a study conducted by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad said that Front of Package Labeling (FoPL) has the ability to nudge people to make healthier food choices.

It focused on the effects of various FoPL models adopted around the world and concluded that the HSR system would be the most effective format for India because of the following reasons.

  • Behavioral change: The HSR will make the public more aware of their food’s nutritional values. It aims to bring about a behavioral change by altering the choice of packaged food they pick up from the food aisle.
  • Ease of understanding: The scale of rating starts from half and goes up to five stars based on the nutritional balance of the packaged food product. The visual representation through stars will help people easily understand the rating.
  • Reliable method: The HSR method is the most reliable as it analyzes the packaged food through its nutritional value while taking into account the balance of these components.

Note: The implementation of the rating system will be kept voluntary for the next four years and milk and milk products will be exempt from it.

To adopt this rating system for your brand, check out how brands in Australia and New Zealand implement the HSR rating

How brands implement the HSR system in Australia and New Zealand

The Food Standards of Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) came up with the HSR system after collaborating with consumer representatives, public health organizations, and experts in the food manufacturing industry.

The HSR system of these countries rates food products by assessing compounds carrying offsetting risks. So, a food product having more risk-reducing components and less risk reducing components will have a higher star rating. The diagram below explains this process better.

Source: FSANZ

But, how do brands incorporate these ratings?

First, they determine if their product is eligible to get an HSR. Then they determine the product category and product form, and calculate the baseline and modified rating. Lastly, the final HSR is calculated.

Now, to print the ratings on the packages, brands follow federal guidelines for graphic elements and design principles. Check out the guidelines here and learn how to calculate brand ratings.

Brands don’t pay the government to use the rating, but there are costs involved in reprinting labels, if they choose to voluntarily adopt the rating system.

Source: mpi.govt.nz

Indian FMCG brands will follow a process similar to the one mentioned above and change their labeling accordingly. So, let’s look at how your brand can prepare for this system and reprint labels efficiently.

How can your FMCG brand prepare for Health Star Ratings?

As an FMCG brand, voluntarily opting for HSR is a great step in assuring your customers that you care about their well being as the rating will be seen as a mark of credibility and gain more recognition for being the healthier food choice.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare your brand for health star ratings:

1. Stay on top of regulations

This might sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised by the number of brands paying a fine because they missed minute details like mentioning allergens. So, make a checklist of all the FSSAI regulations pertaining to the HSR ratings, so designers and reviewers don’t miss it.

2. Collate feedback from different teams

Multiple teams work on labels to ensure that they're accurate, compliant, and consistent with the brand image. But the biggest problem is that the feedback from different teams is siloed. So, there’s a chance that not all of it is incorporated into the artwork. That’s why you need a label management system like Artwork Flow, a comprehensive Brand Compliance tool, to collate feedback and ensure that your team can work on it without missing any important details.

3. Enhance your research and development process

Focus your R&D team to find a balanced formulation that’s also tasty. Examine the sources of your raw material and its processing thoroughly to identify unhealthy ingredients or processes that can be changed or eliminated.

To incorporate the above changes in your label design and execution, you can’t rely on traditional methods like chats and emails as it’s impossible to keep track of feedback on multiple threads. And if you’re roping in external design agencies and print vendors, these communication issues get amplified further.

Plus, it becomes difficult to maintain an audit trail and track accountability if you’re only relying on Excel sheets and generic project management software as they don’t have the necessary features.

That’s why your brand needs an enterprise label management system that can bring data, designing, and approval in one place. You need a solution like Artwork Flow to help you collaborate, proof, and approve artworks without any hassle.

Here’s how you can use it to equip yourself for an HSR system:

1. Centralize all assets

Artwork Flow lets you store all your brand collateral, label designs, and artwork in a central system known as the Packaging Asset Management (PAM). This system helps you maintain a single source of truth in the form of an asset library. This library can store FoPL information for all products, can be referred to easily, and allows you to give access or restrict a part of the asset for collaborators.

2. Create an organized feedback loop

Use markups and annotations to give feedback and notify collaborators working on your labels. Also, feedback from all teams is present in a single place, so collaborators can implement all the feedback without missing any of it even if it’s from external agencies.

3. Maintain consistency

The HSR rating should have consistent colors and font size on all packages. Artwork Flow has color and typography tools which you can use to ensure that there aren’t any typos and font and color inconsistencies.

4. Stay compliant

Customizable checklists are among the best features the platform offers you to stay compliant. Checklists help you automate the workflow by keeping track of all the guidelines to be followed. You can even use the same checklist again for other projects.

5. Enhance accountability and traceability

Artwork Flow’s version control feature allows you to track artwork progress and accountability, and enhances traceability of the process. This way, you can determine the cause of labeling errors quickly, improve label quality, and save recall costs.

Artwork Flow is your one-stop solution for all the artwork management process and helps you adopt health star ratings in your FMCG company efficiently. It effectively organizes your entire artwork designing and approval process systematically, improves the efficiency of your label management process, and helps you comply with regulations.

Talk to us today if you’d like to streamline your artwork labeling process and save money on GTM losses and recalls.

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