Australian not healthy star ratings system paleo network-min

Have you seen who’s behind the (not so) Healthy Star Ratings system?

I saw a TV commercial recently for Uncle Toby’s Oat sachets and the main focus of the advert was how amazingly healthy they are. Apparently these Oats achieve a “4 healthy star rating” – and the higher the star rating, the healthier the product. So they say. Whilst I don’t want to pick on oats specifically, as I think they’re probably one of the not-as-bad-as-the-other-cereals out there, it really highlights how dangerously misleading these Healthy Star Ratings are. Initially I thought the Healthy Rating System was just based on old, outdated (incorrect) advice, but when I saw who was involved in it’s creation, it took a far more sinister turn.

Australian not healthy star ratings system paleo network-min

What are Healthy Star Ratings?

This is an Australian initiative, and it’s jointly funded by the Australian, state and territory governments, and developed in partnership with industry and public health and consumer groups.

I took a further look into these groups, who have jointly developed these ratings, and they include the Australian Beverages Council, and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

And just who makes up these bodies?

Members of the Australian Beverages Council include:

  • Coca-Cola Amatil Pty Ltd
  • Coca-Cola South Pacific
  • Heinz Australia P/L
  • PepsiCo Australia Holdings Pty Ltd
  • Red Bull Australia Pty Ltd
  • Tropico Fruits Pty Ltd

Among many others… (Surely we’re not going to ever see health ratings on Red Bull?)

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has on its board:

  • Clive Stiff who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Unilever Australia & NZ – their brands include Bertolli, Streets Ice Cream and my favourite Flora pro-activ
  • Trevor Clayton who is Chief Executive Officer for Nestle Australia Ltd
  • Andrew Towle who is Managing Director for Kellogg (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Darren O’Brien who is Managing Director for Mondelez Foods Australia (better known as Kraft Foods and Cadbury)
  • Michael Ryan who is General Manager of Mars Chocolate, and
  • Peter West, Managing Director of Lion Dairy & Drinks

So the very companies who produce packaged, processed convenience food have very helpfully come up with a healthy star rating system? And we’re supposed to use this to tell us what is healthy food we should be eating lots of?

How to get a high star rating?

No surprisingly the star system is based on the old beliefs that whole grains are good for us, and fat to be avoided. Products receiving above 4 stars will include whole-grain foods, low-fat milk and reduced fat cheese, and extra lite (urgh I hate that word, theirs, not mine) spreads.

And how to get a low rating?

Products getting below 1 star include those that are full fat, regular fat yoghurt, high saturated fat cheese, salted butter, coconut oil (yes, they expressly list coconut oil on the less healthy foods list) and of course, untrimmed meats. So we can pretty much assume if it’s a natural, unprocessed, paleo food, it won’t get a high healthy star rating.

So I’ve come up with a new system to help you use the star rating system to identify healthy foods:

If it has a healthy star rating, avoid it tweet this quote

What’s your opinion on the Healthy Star Rating system?

Eat margarine or your family will die

Eat margarine or your family will die

“Health food” commercials are getting worse and worse – and of course I’m not referring to adverts for kale or grass-fed beef. I’m talking about products with a list of unpronounceable ingredients – products I go out of my way to avoid. And given that you’re reading my blog, I suspect you do too.

There seems to have been a huge turn here. It seems to slow be becoming the norm to eat an unprocessed diet of real, whole foods. Avoiding processed carbs like bread and pasta seems to be slowly becoming mainstream, and a feat of fat is definitely starting to disappear. I get the impression the manufacturers of  all those other food-like-products are getting worried…

So which advert has been annoying me most this week?

Eat margarine or your family will die

Flora Pro-Activ

Cue upset wife that her husband has high cholesterol. He undertakes the Flora Pro-Activ challenge for three weeks, has his cholesterol re-checked. Ends with happy wife, now her husband isn’t about to drop dead due to a high cholesterol invoked heart attack.

So what is the Flora challenge? For three weeks you eat 25 g of Flora every day, make sure you eat your wholegrains, replace BAD saturated fat with healthy saturated fat and generally keep your fat as low as possible. Nooo!

And what does Flora Pro-Activ actually contain?

Ingredients: Water, Vegetable Oils (30%), Plant Sterol Esters (12.5%), Buttermilk, Modified Waxy Corn Starch, Salt (1%), Emulsifiers (Mono-and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Sunflower Lecithin), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Citric Acid, Flavourings, Colour (Beta Carotene), Vitamin A and D

And evil butter? Let’s remind ourselves of the dangerous ingredients that contains: Pasteurised Cream (from Milk), Water, Salt. Three ingredients that I have in my kitchen; compared to unidentified “vegetable” oils and a host of ingredients not available at the local farmers market.

Despite a lot of research showing a higher cholesterol actually lowers the risk of heart attack, of course, these companies still like to keep us fearing cholesterol. More worrying is the margarine they want us to eat to benefit our health – so chemically processed, they are a fat that our bodies don’t recognise at all.

The other issue, is the claim that the plant sterol esters in this product actually lower our cholesterol. The adverts make it sound like a magic potion, with the ability to dramatically cut your cholesterol in a matter of days. The reality is that alone, these chemicals can supposedly only reduce cholesterol by a maximum of 10% (average results presumably a lot lower) – and of course that’s assuming reducing cholesterol is a good thing.

All in all I find the advert extremely misleading and think it’s outrageous that they come into our homes every day, suggesting that if you love your family, you need to make sure they eat 25 g of margarine a day – or risk losing them to heart disease.

What do you think about the Flora Pro-Activ challenge and the health commercials that come into your home each day?

Paleo related films movies tv shows diet health-min

Top 14 Paleo Films & TV Shows

There seem to be quite a few Paleo Films and TV shows with a Paleo theme.

My favourites are: –

  1. Robb Wolf in ICaveman  As I’m sure everyone has heard by now Robb Wolf was just on ICaveman on Discovery spreading the Paleo message.
  2. Tom Naughton’s Fat Head  Tom made this film in response to “Super Size Me” and it’s a great watch, Tom is a very funny guy!
  3. Food Inc  This film is about how big corporations control Americas food industry, scary watching!
  4. Food Matters  This documentary is about the role of nutrition in health, an obvious link, but one that is often ignored.
  5. Fresh  This is a good follow-on film to Food Inc, addressing how we go about changing the way food is produced.
  6. Flow  All about water…
  7. King Corn  How the food system works
  8. Future of Food  Food and GMO
  9. Forks over Knives  Linking diseases with processed foods
  10. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead  How an overweight man saved himself by taking control of his diet
  11. Gourmet Farmer  This is a documentary series filmed in Tasmania, Australia following a former restaurant critic as he attempts to become self sufficient on his recently acquired farm.  He’s not Paleo and it is a bit of an Aussie version of Riverside cottage – but it’s all about whole, real food and self sufficiently – and that is Paleo.
  12. Riverside Cottage  Perhaps the inspiration for “Gourmet Farmer” another series about self sufficiency and real food.
  13. Man V’s Wild  It doesn’t get much more Paleo than watching Bear Grylls mastering the art of survival in very challenging environments!
  14. Castaway   So, not strictly Paleo, but it has Tom Hanks in it and explores quite a Primal situation!

I’m sure I’ve missed hundreds of Paleo related documentaries, films and TV shows.  I love to hear about your favourites and what I’ve missed off the list!

Paleo related films movies tv shows diet health-min