FOOD giant Heinz had misled consumers by claiming one of its snacks, marketed at young children, was healthy, the Federal Court has ruled.
“I am satisfied that Heinz ought to have known that the representation that the products were beneficial to the health of children aged 1 to 3 years was false or misleading,” Justice Richard White ruled on Monday.
But he said those responsible for the packaging had “adopted a generally conservative approach to the claims which should be made”.
Australia’s consumer watchdog had alleged Heinz had engaged in false and misleading representations in relation to its Little Kids Shredz products — a jube product the company said was made from 99 per cent fruit and vegetable juice and purees.
Heinz had rejected the allegations as without merit.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission case centred on claims Heinz made representations on its packaging that suggested the snack had the same nutritional value as fresh fruit, it was a nutritious food for young children and it would encourage healthy eating habits.
Expert witness for the ACCC, nutritionist Rosemary Stanton, had told the court in July such depictions were misleading as the product “is not good for toddlers”.
“This product is not that nutritious, it’s not healthy and it’s too high in sugar,” Ms Stanton said.
Heinz had argued none of those alleged representations had been made and, even if they were, they were not misleading.