Nestle is removing the 4.5 health star rating from its Milo powder, a product given a Bad Taste Food Award by Consumer NZ in 2016.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says Milo has a 4.5 star rating – out of a possible five stars – despite the fact it is almost 50 percent sugar. Product packaging also boasts pictures of active young sportspeople.

Milo’s high rating is based on the drink being made with skim milk. On its own, the powder only earns 1.5 stars.

“It’s the skim milk that boosts the number of stars. But our research found most milo drinkers prepare the drink with standard blue top or full-cream milk,” Ms Chetwin says.

The 4.5 star rating will disappear from Milo powder in June.

Health star guidelines let companies calculate the number of stars on an “as prepared” basis. This means a rating can reflect the nutritional components of the added ingredients, such as skim milk, rather than just the product itself.

Ms Chetwin says this rule undermines one of the main objectives of the rating system, which is to give consumers at-a-glance information about the nutrition content of a packaged food.

Consumer NZ has been campaigning to get rid of the “as prepared” loophole. It supports ratings being calculated on an “as sold” basis, with the exception of products that need to be drained or reconstituted with water.

To make sure consumers can trust the star ratings, Consumer NZ also wants caps on ratings for products high in sugar, saturated fat or sodium.

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