Kellogg and Aldi are just two of the many brands that have come under fire for disguising excessive added sugars as fruit on products.
A review of 224 snack bars by Australian consumer advocate Choice has revealed some of the biggest brands are tricking consumers by depicting images of real fruit on packaging even though products are loaded with added sugar and contain minimal “real” fruit.
Coles, Carman’s, Fontelle, Go Natural, Emma & Tom’s, Aldi's Hillcrest, Woolworths and Kellogg are the brands named as having the lowest rating snack bars.
Kellogg made the list twice for its LCM Split Stix Yoghurty bars and Nutri-Grain Bars, both found to be high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
A Kellogg spokesperson defended its products, saying the brand is "committed to clear and transparent labelling", including the phased rollout of Health Star Ratings on all of its snacks.
"K-Time Twists are a baked snack for adults and they’re not marketed to kids for the lunchbox occasion. All of the nutrition and health star information for our foods can be found on the Kellogg website and if consumers have any questions about Kellogg, we’d love for them to visit us at www.openforbreakfast.com.au," Kellogg says.
The results come at a time when expert bodies, such as the World Health Organisation and the US Food and Drug Administration, are calling on consumers to limit their intake of added sugars to reduce the risk of obesity and tooth decay.
Choice head of media Tom Godfrey says relying on marketing messages and brand names in the supermarket is “no recipe” for finding real fruit in processed foods and can leave you drowning in a sea of added sugar.
Choice found the “fruit” ingredients in snack bars often owe more to chemistry than agriculture, for example Aldi’s Hillcrest Chewy Muesli Bars depicted fresh strawberries on the box but instead it contains “strawberry flavoured pieces”.
Recently the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) commenced proceedings in the federal court against Heinz for the ‘misleading’ representation of the nutritional value of its products for toddlers.
“The fruit content of some products is farcical. If you’re putting your kid’s lunchbox together you’d be far better off with fresh fruit and some wholegrain crackers,” Godfrey says.
Choice's findings follow a recent report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that found more than half of Australians are exceeding recommendations around the daily intake of sugar.
“Making matters worse, there is currently no requirement in Australia for food companies to detail added sugars on packs. This makes it easier for the junk food giants to sweeten the truth with their dodgy ‘health halos’ on pack,” Godfrey says.
Choice is calling for added sugars to be listed on nutritional panels and different kinds of added sugars identified clearly in the ingredient list so consumers can navigate around the junk food’s industry “marketing trickery”.
You can read the full report from Choice here.
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