Extra Virgin Olive Oil Misses Out on Health Star Upgrade

Olive oil is getting short-changed within Australia's Health Star Rating (HSR) system despite a five year review of the program.

It's prompted the Australian Olive Association (AOA) to call for a regulated exemption of edible oils from the HSR system.

The AOA has long pushed the benefits of extra virgin olive oil which is widely regarded as being healthier than refined oils like canola oil and sunflower oil, even though these oils rank healthier than EVOO in the current system.

The association has warned that consumer health is at risk through misleading labelling.

The call comes after the HSR system handed down its five year review in May.

The report itself acknowledged the evidence submitted by stakeholders regarding the health benefits of olive oil.

"However, the Review is mindful that the HSR calculator can only draw on a finite set of factors to determine a product's HSR," the report said.

"The HSR system cannot and does not take into account all of the different reasons a food may have health benefits.

"For example, the calculator does not consider polyphenol or omega-3 content, vitamin content, the way the food is produced or the way that it is used in an individual's diet.

"The Review does not consider it appropriate to increase the HSR of one type of oil over another on the basis of factors not considered for any other product.

"While olive oil has certain health benefits, it is also higher in saturated fats than some other oils.”

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Food Forum), which consists of State and Territory ministers from Australia and New Zealand, will seek advice on the recommendations before making a formal decision at their next meeting in November.

The AOA said the final recommendations go against findings from the Draft Report, which outlined the shortcomings of the HSR calculator's ability to assess the true healthiness of edible oils.

The AOA said the HSR algorithm fails to make an appropriate healthiness assessment because it rates healthiness on the single factor of saturated fat and that the small difference in saturated fat levels between EVOO and canola or sunflower oils is far outweighed by the positive health benefits of EVOO. More


Read the entire Health Star Rating System Five Year Review Report at http://www.healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/Content/D1562AA78A574853CA2581BD00828751/$File/Health-Star-Rating-System-Five-Year-Review-Report.pdf