Household brand, Heinz, is being taken to court over allegations the company is misleading consumers about the nutritional value of its toddler snack range.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has kicked off proceedings in the Federal Court.
The action relates to Heinz’s popular Little Kids Shredz product range, aimed at 1-3 year olds.
Heinz makes a number of products aimed at babies and toddlers, from baby pouches to toddler ready meals. The products offer convenience to busy families. However, the company is now under fire for what the ACCC believes to be false and misleading representations of its products.
The Shredz pack is designed to look wholesome. The packaging has eye-catching images of fresh fruits and vegetables. It also features an illustration of a little boy playing on a rope ladder attached to a brightly coloured tree.
Heinz’s Misleading Nutrition Claims
On the front of the pack, in big letters, is the claim “99% fruit and veg”. Elsewhere on the packaging, it states “Our range of snacks and meals encourages your toddler to independently discover the delicious taste of nutritious food.”
The ACCC has initiated court proceedings because it believes the product packaging misrepresents the product inside. The ACCC believes that the packaging misleads parents into thinking that Little Kids Shredz are as nutritionally beneficial and healthy as the fruits and vegetables pictured on the front of the pack.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said: “The ACCC has brought these proceedings because it alleges that Heinz is marketing these products as healthy options for young children when they are not. These products contain over 60 per cent sugar, which is significantly higher than that of natural fruit and vegetables – for example, an apple contains approximately 10 per cent sugar”.
“We also allege that rather than encouraging children to develop a taste for nutritious food, these Heinz Shredz products are likely to inhibit the development of a child’s taste for natural fruit and vegetables and encourage a child to become accustomed to, and develop a preference for, sweet tastes”.
“The ACCC wants to make clear that major companies have an obligation under the Australian Consumer Law to ensure products’ health claims do not mislead the public. 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”.
The Obesity Policy Coalition alerted the ACCC to the high number of toddler foods being misrepresented as healthy and nutritious. Jane Martin, the Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said: “Regular consumption of added sugar can lead to weight gain, increasing the risk of chronic diseases and conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, later in life. Regular sugar intake can also increase the risk of tooth decay and lead to children becoming accustomed to the taste of sweet foods.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting the intake of foods containing added sugar, including fruit juice concentrate. Many parents would be shocked to know that just one 18g serve of Shredz contains almost an entire day's worth of added sugar for a two-year-old.
“It can be very difficult for parents to know what packaged foods are healthy choices for young children. We hope food companies take note of the ACCC’s action and are discouraged from using potentially misleading health claims in future”.
Always Read Product Nutrition Labels Before Buying Products
When buying food and drinks, bear in mind that a teaspoon of sugar can range from around 3.67 grams (finer confectioner's sugar) to 4.67 grams (granulated sugar). So if the serving size of a product has 16 grams of sugar, imagine placing four teaspoons of sugar in your mouth. It's not a pretty picture!
Recommended Reading: Are Your Kids Overdosing On Sugar? A Shocking Video. BellyBelly also recommends watching That Sugar Film.