The Star Choice™ Nutrient Criteria (previously FOCIS Nutrient Criteria) was first developed in 1998 in consultation with State and Territory Canteen Associations and their nutrition advisors, health and education professionals, and representatives of the food industry. The 2021 criteria have been developed using a similar process.

The criteria have been set, taking the following into account:

  1. The nutrient composition of particular types of foods. Thus the same criteria are not applied across the board e.g. the criteria applied to cheese are not those applied to bread
  2. Guidelines and regulations according to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ)
  3. The Australian Dietary Guidelines
  4. The portion/serving sizes i.e. the typical amount of the food consumed in some categories
  5. The composition of currently available foods, with an aim to set criteria that are feasible and to recognise the best of current widely available products
  6. The types of foods which are likely to be developed for the canteen and children’s market in the future
  7. Dietary food modelling based on the assumption that one third of a child’s daily food intake is consumed at school.

The criteria are designed to address the food needs of the general student population not those with specific medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, coeliac disease or food allergy).

The criteria used to assess the suitability of products for registration address levels and types of fat, salt (sodium) sugar and fibre in foods and beverages because excessive amounts of fat, salt and sugar and inadequate amounts of fibre are associated with many of the chronic health problems suffered by Australians.

The criteria in some categories also stipulates a maximum portion size and/or energy (kilojoule) allowance. Thus, it should not be assumed that a larger size of the same product meets registration criteria. For example, a 28g packet snack line may be registered, but a 50g packet of the same product may not be because it exceeds the energy allowance.

The criteria do not address food additives/preservatives as their addition or otherwise to food and beverages is controlled by the Government body Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Information regarding additives and preservatives may be found at www.foodstandards.gov.au.

See the WASCA facts sheet on Food additives.

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