Unilever Australia Limited and The Smith’s Snackfood Company Pty Ltd have each been ordered to pay a penalty of $10,800 for misleading healthy food representations.
It comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), acting on a complaint made by consumer advocacy group CHOICE, served the two companies with infringement notices for claiming that the products they supply 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,” the ACCC said.
“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.”
The consumer watchdog pointed out that both products’ packaging included a disclaimer that the product met the ‘Amber’ criteria of the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines, but argued that they were in a small font size and on a different side to the logos.
Commissioner Sarah Court said the ACCC did not consider these disclaimers to be 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,” she 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 told the ACCC they will stop using the logos on their product packaging.