Food companies who make misleading health claims on children's products have been put on notice today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC has commenced legal action against Heinz for allegedly promoting its Shredz toddler products as healthy choices that have the same nutritional value as fruit and vegetables, when in reality they are made from fruit and vegetable concentrates and contain more than 60% sugar.
The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) alerted the ACCC to the potentially false and misleading claims in July last year and congratulates the watchdog for putting these products under the spotlight.
"The OPC is pleased to see such strong action from the ACCC against Heinz for potentially misleading parents who are simply trying to do their best to feed their children nutritious food," OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said.
"Heinz Shredz are promoted as a ‘nutritious food' yet they are higher in sugar than some confectionery. We know that these types of foods which are high in sugar are not a nutritious choice for toddlers. They are not equal to whole fruit and vegetables and they contain significantly more sugar.
"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."
Ms Martin advised shoppers to refer to the nutrition information and ingredients list on packaged foods when looking to make healthier purchases.
"It can be very difficult for parents to know what packaged foods are healthy choices or young children. We hope food companies take note of the ACCC's action and are discouraged from using potentially misleading health claims in future."