Unilever Australia Limited (Unilever) and The Smith’s Snackfood Company Pty Ltd (Smith’s) have each paid a penalty of $10,800 following the issue of infringement notices by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for misleading healthy food representations.
The ACCC had reasonable grounds to believe both companies made false or misleading representation on the packaging of popular products they supply that the products had been approved or were suitable as healthy options for school canteens.
Unilver’s Paddle Pop Rainbow (10 pack) packaging included a logo on the front, back and one side of the packaging with the words “School Canteen Approved” and a tick symbol (see Image 1).
Smith’s Sakata Paws Pizza Supreme Rice Snacks included a logo with the words “Meets School Canteen Guidelines” and an image of a sandwich and apple (see Image 2).
Both products’ packaging included a disclaimer that the product met the ‘Amber’ criteria of the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines, however they were in a small font size and on a different side to the logos. The ACCC did not consider these disclaimers were sufficiently prominent to correct the misleading representations created by the logos.
“The ACCC believes both companies were using logos to claim that these products were a healthy option for school canteens to supply to children, when they were not,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“School canteen managers, parents and caregivers rely upon product packaging and labelling when choosing healthy snacks for children. The ACCC is currently examining consumer protection issues around ensuring that the health claims made by large businesses are accurate and will not mislead consumers.”
Unilever and Smith’s have informed the ACCC they will both stop using the logos on their product packaging.