A Federal Court case brought against Heinz by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has begun in Adelaide, more than a year after legal action was launched.
The ACCC is alleging that Little Kids Shredz, a fruit and veg snack for 1-3-year-olds, contains so much sugar that it should be classed as confectionery. Heinz is accused of misleading the public over the health benefits – while it states that the product is ‘99% fruit and veg’, 67.8g out of every 100g is sugar.
What makes this different to dried fruit snacks, the ACCC says, is the addition of fruit juice concentrate, which should be classes as added sugar, despite being naturally occurring.
Speaking when the case was filed in 2016, 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% sugar, which is significantly higher than that of natural fruit and vegetables - for example, an apple contains approximately 10% 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 Shredz product range includes three varieties; ‘peach apple and veg’, ‘berries apple and veg’ (pictured), and ‘strawberry & apple with chia seeds’ and has been available in major supermarkets nationally since at least August 2013.