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New Zealand joins Australia in healthy food labeling scheme | Updated: 2014-06-30 09:19

New Zealand is to align its food packaging with Australia by introducing a new "health star rating" labeling system that gives an easy-to-read guide to the nutritional value of the contents, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said Friday.

The voluntary system has been developed as part of the Australian and New Zealand Ministers Food Forum.

Research has shown the system would help consumers to identify healthier food products, while uptake would be determined by companies themselves and consumer demand, Kaye said in a statement.

The system, which excludes alcohol, uses a star rating scale of half a star to five stars, with more stars reflecting better nutritional value and allowing shoppers to compare products within a range.

The number of stars is determined by an algorithm that considered the overall nutritional value of the food.

"This system will encourage companies to change their products to be healthier," said Kaye.

In joining the trans-Tasman system, New Zealand would be a member of a committee to oversee its implementation.

Kaye hoped to see the first health star labels on products within 12 months.

New Zealand Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said she is confident a significant number of manufacturers would support the scheme.

"Industry recognizes it plays an important part in helping people to make good choices and that's why we've participated in this project," Rich said in a statement.

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