LUDICROUS: OJ drops below diet cola in health ratings
Fruit juice will be rated as less healthy than diet cola under Australia's health star rating system, unless a rearguard action can prevent the bizarre change next Friday.
Under proposed new calculations for the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, fresh apple juice will get just a two-star rating and orange juice 2.5 stars, while "nutritionless" diet cola will receive 3.5 stars, according to Citrus Australia.
It would be dropping fruit juice from its current five-star rating based on sugar content, if approved by the forum next Friday.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has blasted it as a "stupid decision" that "doesn't make sense" and is pushing for fruit juice to maintain at least a four-star rating.
But so far NSW and SA are the only states backing in the plan.
"It is simply ludicrous for the majority of states to support the classification of fizzy drinks like diet colas healthier than a glass of pure fruit or vegetable juice," Mr Littleproud said.
"Classifying fruit and vegetable juices worse than soft drinks will discourage consumers from choosing these healthy and natural products, undermine public trust and confidence in the Health Star Rating system and leave consumers worse off overall."
Citrus Australia boss Nathan Hancock said it could be a $67 million hit to orange growers if consumers were put off juices.
"The fact that diet soft drink with no nutritional value can receive 3 ½ Stars while fresh juice gets 2 stars would suggest the Health Star Rating system is not focused on the overall health benefits of a product, but instead focused on just one element," he said.
A spokesman for the newly appointed Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said she looked forward to receiving a briefing from the department on the matter ahead of next Friday's forum.
The proposed changes are part of a five year review into the health star system.
Dietitians recommend only drinking fruit juice occasionally, limited to about 125ml servings.
The Courier-Mail contacted the federal Health Department for comment but did not receive a response before deadline.
Mr Littleproud said while consumers needed to take some personal responsibility for what they eat and drink "this one is just crazy".
Originally published as 'Simply ludicrous': OJ drops below diet cola in health ratings