Australia's consumer watchdog says Heinz is misleading parents about the nutritional value of its products for toddlers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced proceedings in the federal court against H.J. Heinz Company Australia Ltd in relation to its Little Kids Shredz products.
It alleges Heinz is falsely marketing these products, which contain more than 60% sugar, as healthy options for young children when they are not.
The ACCC says the Shredz packaging features images of fresh fruit and vegetables and statements such as ‘99% fruit and veg’ to deliberately mislead the public.
It alleges these images and statements represent to consumers that the products are of equivalent nutritional value to fruit and vegetables and are a healthy and nutritious food for children aged one to three years, when this is not the case.
Chairman Rod Sims says the regular consumption of the Heinz Shredz products, which have a significantly higher percentage of sugar than natural fruit and vegetables, are likely to inhibit the development of a child’s taste for natural foods.
“As part of the ACCC’s current focus on consumer protection issues arising from health claims by large businesses, we are particularly concerned about potentially misleading health claims for products being marketed for very young children,” Sims says.
The ACCC’s action follows a complaint by the Obesity Policy Coalition about food products for toddlers that make fruit and vegetable claims but are predominantly made from fruit juice concentrate and pastes, which have a very high sugar content.
Earlier this year, AdNews watchdog, the mighty defender of consumers against BS, challenged the marketing claims of an “organic” snack food targeted at kids, after claims brands were using ‘organic’ labelling to mislead parents on the nutritional value of foods.
AdNews watchdog found the images and labelling used on kids products perpetuated a healthier product than what the nutritional value showed.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective notices and costs.
Last week, the consumer watchdog claimed Medibank deliberately misled customers.
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