The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and popular kids’ food brand Heinz were in court yesterday, as the ACCC allege that Heinz is questionably marketing sugar-laden snacks to parents of preschool aged kids.
The watchdog is taking particular aim at the Little Kids Shredz range by Heinz. The product is apparently no longer available, but the ACCC allege the language used on the packaging indicated the products were almost as healthy as fresh fruit and vegetables.
“The Shredz products’ packaging features prominent images of fresh fruit and vegetables and statements such as ‘99% fruit and veg’ and ‘Our range of snacks and meals encourages your toddler to independently discover the delicious taste of nutritious food’,” the ACCC say, explaining that they don’t see the Heinz products as a healthy choice.
“They are too energy dense. They contain too much sugar,” Tom Duggan SC, for the ACCC told the court on Monday. Mr Duggan also said an expert witness would soon tell the court these products are simply confectionary.
“Over 60 percent sugar”
“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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a recent statement.
The ACCC are concerned that products such as these, which are marketed as nutritious and healthy, may be fostering a taste for sugary snacks, instead. Actual fresh fruit and vegetables are obviously a better choice for developing little taste buds.
Prior to this week’s hearing, Heinz were strongly rejecting the ACCC claims.
“Heinz takes labelling of products very seriously and complies with all Australian labelling and food laws,” a Heinz spokesperson said, The Guardian reports.
“Good, clear, honest information”
This action is a direct result of a complaint by the Obesity Policy Coalition (OBC) who are concerned about products for toddlers that make fruit and vegetable claims whilst being made from high-sugar fruit juice pastes and concentrates. They’re urging for reform when it comes to the way these products are labelled and marketed.
“It’s very difficult for parents to know which foods are healthy and which aren’t, particularly for toddlers. I think parents are really trying to make the right choices and they need good, clear, honest information about the nature of the products,” the OBC’s executive manager, Jane Martin said.
“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,” Jane explained.
This case is a reminder that parents and carers should always check the nutritional panel of processed or pre-prepared foods they give their kids – and that fresh foods are always the optimal choice.