OPC welcomes ACCC legal action against Heinz for marketing high-sugar toddler snacks as 'healthy'

19 Mar 2018

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has welcomed the Federal Court’s judgment that Heinz Shredz was being falsely marketed as a healthy snack for toddlers.

The court ruled today that Heinz Little Kids Shredz was misleading consumers with its claims about the nutritional value of its ‘99% fruit and veg’ Little Kids Shredz products.

This result follows legal action from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) against Heinz, after the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) lodged a complaint in 2015.

OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said Heinz Shredz was just one example of how some food companies market processed food as healthy to Australians.

“Heinz Shredz toddler products were falsely promoted to parents as healthy choices for children,” Ms Martin said.

“They boasted the same nutritional value as fruit and vegetables, when in reality they’re made from fruit and vegetable concentrates and contain more than 60 percent sugar.

“The Obesity Policy Coalition alerted the ACCC to the misleading claims on Heinz Little Kids Shredz because we’re concerned that Australian parents are buying products like these thinking they’re good for their kids.

“These sticky snacks are higher in sugar than some confectionery, and therefore cannot be part of a healthy diet, especially for developing toddlers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting the intake of foods containing added sugar, including fruit juice concentrate, to 10 percent of people's daily energy, and ideally no more than 5 percent (or 6 teaspoons per day) for the biggest health benefit.

“Many parents would be shocked to know that just one 18 gram packet of Shredz contains almost an entire day's worth of added sugar for a two-year-old," Ms Martin said.

“We hope this case and the court’s judgement send a message to other food manufacturers.

“Industry needs to be accountable to their customers and not imply that their high sugar products, particularly those developed for children, are healthier than they really are,” she said.

“Promoting processed, high-sugar products as nutritious – regardless of whether it contains sugar derived from fruit, vegetables or elsewhere – is irresponsible and misleading.

“Clearly labelling ‘added sugar’ on the packaging will also help parents cut through the marketing spin when they’re in the supermarket.” Ms Martin said.

Ms Martin said the OPC also wants to see the Health Star Rating System recognise that  sugar sourced from fruit is still sugar, and rate products accordingly.