Claims about the Vitamin C content of Ribena blackcurrant fruit drink products* may have misled consumers, its manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Limited, has admitted.
"It has self-reported the discrepancies to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and provided court enforceable undertakings," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel said today.
"On the basis of information provided by GSK Australia, the ACCC was specifically concerned that the following representations may have misled consumers:
- representations on the nutrition information panel of Ribena Ready to Drink fruit drinks that claimed the products contained certain quantities of Vitamin C, when in fact they had significantly less Vitamin C, and
- advertising and packaging representations of Ribena fruit drinks that: "the blackcurrants in Ribena contain four times the Vitamin C of oranges" implied that Ribena fruit drinks contained four times the Vitamin C of comparable orange juice products, when this was not correct.
"It is extremely important that companies use appropriate calculation methods when making claims about the contents of food or beverage products, especially when those claims relate to nutrition," Mr Samuel said.
GSK Australia cooperated with the ACCC's enquiries and took a number of steps to address these concerns. GSK Australia will:
- only make claims about the Vitamin C content of Ribena Ready to Drink fruit drinks if those claims can be substantiated by validated testing methods
- stop making any express or implied representation that Ribena fruit drinks contain four times the Vitamin C of orange juice products
- stop making any express or implied representation that Ribena fruit drinks contain more Vitamin C than orange juice products, unless this claim can be substantiated
- place a notice in retail outlets selling Ribena fruit drinks advising consumers of the allegedly misleading representations
- publish notices on Ribena websites advising consumers of the allegedly misleading representations, and
- review, and implement recommended changes to, its trade practices law compliance program.
GSK Australia has also undertaken to publish an article for industry on the importance of being accurate when making representations to consumers. It will express "the importance of companies who become aware of potential false or misleading representations voluntarily approaching the ACCC so that they can work cooperatively to resolve the issue."
Mr Samuel said that where a company cooperates with the ACCC, this is taken into account when determining what further action is appropriate.