Heinz fined $2.25m for misleading health claims

Heinz Company Australia has been ordered to pay penalties of $2.25m after it suggested its Little Kids Shredz products were beneficial to young children.

In 2016, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commenced proceedings against Heinz, alleging the company had made ‘false’ and ‘misleading’ representations of the products.

Heinz’s Little Kids Shredz product

The ACCC argued statements such as ‘99% fruit and veg’ and ‘discover the delicious taste of nutritious food’ were misleading, as the products contained more than 60% sugar.

In March 2018, the Federal Court of Australia made their decision, finding the food giant in breach of Australian Consumer Law. It ruled Heinz was in breach for telling consumers the Kids Shredz products were beneficial to children aged between one and three years.

Additionally, the Court ruled Heinz nutritionists should have known positioning a product with more than 60% sugar as beneficial, was misleading.

At the time, the ACCC was seeking a $10m fine.

“We will continue to advocate for stronger penalties to deter large companies from engaging in serious contraventions of Australia’s consumer laws, particularly now that Parliament has passed legislation substantially increasing the maximum penalties for breaches of the ACL,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims.

“The ACCC wants to ensure that penalties for breaches of the consumer law are large enough to get the attention of the financial markets, boards and senior management.”

The ACCC is now considering the judgement, but the Court has ordered Heinz to established a consumer law compliance program and to pay ACCC costs.


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