Additional Information / FAQ

Understanding and Using the Packaging Accessibility Rating

IHHC Packaging Accessibility Rating Information Pack:
IHHC Packaging Accessibility Information Pack contains all the information about the Packaging Accessibility Rating featured on the IHHC website in a downloadable pack. It also contains supporting documents that help suppliers including:

  • Packaging Accessibility Design Guidelines
  • Testing Fee's for Packaging Accessibility Ratings
  • Sample Packaging Accessibility Rating Report

What is Packaging Accessibility Rating (Rating)
The Packaging Accessibility Rating is part of a design report called the Initial Scientific Review (ISR) report which gives each product a Packaging Accessibility Rating using a scale with -8 being the lowest Rating and +8 being the highest Rating.

What is the Initial Scientific Review (ISR) report
The ISR report provides a valuable insight into why the product received the Rating and how the product will impact patients/consumers. The ISR design report identifies design issues and suggests modifications to help resolve these issues. The ISR report is available upon request from the supplier, though some may not wish to share the ISR report.

Is there a minimum Packaging Accessibility Rating for selecting products?
There is no minimum Rating. Try to select the product with highest Rating from available products. Any Rating less than a +4 is likely to cause significant problems for patients of all ages, particularly the elderly. When switching between two products, any improvement in the Rating delivers a better outcome for patients.

Why are products I am currently purchasing, not on the Packaging Accessibility Rating Database?
Products available to you in your region and state, may not be available nationally or have yet to be tested. The Packaging Accessibility Rating Database is growing, but only includes Ratings for selected products that have been purchased in the last few years in NSW, Victorian and/or Tasmanian public hospitals.

Can I request to have a product tested, if it is not on the Database?
Yes. You can request a supplier undergoes testing to determine their Rating or include accessibility in your next tender as NSW and Victorian public hospitals have done. It can then be added to the Database, which is available to all IHHC members nationally.
By doing so, you benefit patients across the health system by enabling food service managers throughout Australia to make informed decisions on how a product impacts patients.

How often are the Ratings and Database updated
The Database will be updated with new Packaging Accessibility Ratings on a quarterly basis. The Database will be updated to include new packaging which has been tested for the first time, retested packaging that has changed since original testing and will remove any packaging that has been discontinued.

Conditions of Use: Packaging Accessibility Rating Database
The information in the Database is confidential. It may be legally privileged information or subject to copyright. IHHC members are prohibited from reproducing, displaying or distributing the Packaging Accessibility Rating outside their organisation, unless expressly authorised to do so by HealthShare NSW. IHHC members are permitted to share the individual Ratings with the company which is the subject of the report.

How are products added to the Database
Contact HealthShare NSW or Arthritis Australia, details below, if you wish to have a product added to the Database.

Is there a cost to suppliers to get a Packaging Accessibility Rating
Yes, there is a cost, but the fees vary significantly depending on the number of products being tested and if they are being tested at the same time. Costs and contact details are in IHHC Packaging Accessibility Information Pack.

Who supplies the Packaging Accessibility Ratings?
The Packaging Accessibility Ratings are provided by the Accessible Design Division of Arthritis Australia, an Approved Testing Authority by HealthShare NSW, Health Purchasing Victoria and are recognised as part of the National Product Catalogue managed by GS1 Australia.

What is National Product Catalogue (NPC)
The National Product Catalogue (NPC) is a single source/repository of product, pricing and healthcare data for all Health Industry Product Categories including food and catering services. Endorsed by all State, Territory and Federal Health Departments and provided in collaboration with GS1 Australia. The NPC will contain a health/food service dataset containing nutritional information, and a Packaging Accessibility Ratings for selected products. Many suppliers already have GTIN – Global Trade Identification Numbers/GS1 barcodes.

How long does it take for a company to get a Packaging Accessibility Rating?
It takes 3-6 weeks to perform testing depending on the number of products already being tested at this time.

How often do suppliers have to test their products?
If there are no changes to the packaging, there is no need to retest. Changes to ingredients, should not impact the Rating. Suppliers must have their product retested if they have made any changes to their packaging, including changes to the labelling artwork. These results are then updated on the Database. If you believe a product has changed since this testing, please inform HealthShare NSW.

Packaging Accessibility Design Guidelines
HealthShare NSW commissioned a set of packaging design guidelines to assist manufacturers to design easy to open and read packaging. The Packaging Accessibility Design Guidelines are not prescriptive; they simply identify the most common Packaging Accessibility issues associated with packaging and suggest possible ways these issues can be overcome.

Easy To Open certification (ETO)
Easy to Open certified products are considered best practice. The Packaging Accessibility Rating involves scientific testing and a population estimate based on research. Certification is based on rigorous consumer testing of people with functional limitations including arthritis.



IHHC National Secretariat

Lisa Cranham
National President
03 9895 4450

HealthShare NSW

Zdenka Fuller
Business Services Manager
02 8838 1369


Accessible Design Division Arthritis Australia

Alexandrea Brayshaw
Accessible Packaging Researcher
02 9518 4441