We should all be familiar with the health star rating system (out of 5) that we see on some of our staple groceries each week. What you might not know is that it is outdated and cannot be relied upon; especially if this is the only measure you look at when deciding if a product is healthy or not.

Further to that, if this lack of education is passed down to the children then there is the potential to become a country ignorant about health. Not only is the current health star rating not mandatory, but it is often false in the sense that a lesser-known brand with an organic product with no preservatives of any kind may have a lower health star rating than a well-known brand of the same product that has preservatives.

Here is a more detailed list of some of the pitfalls in the current system

  •  It is essentially a loophole that lets businesses pick and choose which products use when it comes to a health rating
  • Health stars are currently present on just 30 per cent of packaged foods
  • A draft review of the system released in 2019 recommended it be displayed on 70 per cent of eligible products by 2023.
  • There is no differentiation between natural sugars and added sugars when it comes to a given star value 
  • There is no penalisation when it comes to added sugars and salts

Enter, Tim MacDonald

Off the back of last year’s rejection by politicians to make Health Star Ratings mandatory, local app Inithas taken matters into their own hands with the launch of technology that gives Australians full transparency when it comes to the food we eat and the products we buy.

The free app has tapped into consumers’ increased desire for knowledge surrounding nutrition, ingredients and organic provenance of food, as well as cosmetics’ chemical composition.

For food products, Init takes the current Health Star Rating, which only considers nutrition, further by also identifying the level of food processing, by looking at specific ingredients, food additives and any organic properties of the food. With beauty, hygiene and grooming products, the app alerts users to potentially harmful chemicals that are present within the item.

 The app works to simplify the often-confusing purchase cycle by showing a simple four-stage colour-coded rating system of ‘bad’, ‘mediocre’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’. These are independently based on global nutrition guidelines. The app aims to provide a rating for all food and beauty products that are available in Australia. 

 Since going public, Init has been used over 250,000 times by more than 10,000 people, there are currently 800,000 products on the database, and this is growing. The most popular scanned item is Vegemite within food and Sorbolene moisturiser for cosmetics. Init is 100% independent and Australian owned.