The Australian Health and Nutrition Association Limited, trading as Sanitarium, has offered a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC, concerning misleading representations made on the packaging of some cereal products.
Between February 2009 and October 2010, Sanitarium represented on the packaging of its Weet-bix Wild Berry Bites, Weet-Bix Apricot Bites, Granola Clusters and Light'n'Tasty Triple Berry cereals:
- a particular percentage of fruit content of the product, where a significant portion of that fruit content comprised of other substances such as sugars, wheat fibre and gelling agents
- prominent and bold colouring, in association with images of fruits and fruit descriptor words such as 'Wild Berry' and 'Apricot', when the cereals only contained a small amount of these fruits.
The ACCC was concerned that Sanitarium, in making such representations, created the impression to consumers that the cereals contained a greater quantity of the prominently depicted fruit than was actually the case.
The ACCC considers that such conduct may be in contravention of section 52 and 53(c) of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
Sanitarium has cooperated with the ACCC and has stated that it will:
- not use combinations of colours, words and/or images on the packaging of it's cereal products that are likely to mislead consumers
- list the fruit content on the ingredient panels of its cereals so that the percentage attributed to the fruit accurately and clearly reflects the amount of fruit
- change the ingredient panel labelling of its cereals by providing a breakdown of all the ingredients
- implement a product labelling audit of all its food products to ensure its products accurately describe the food contained within, and
- enhance, maintain and continue to implements its trade practices law compliance program.
In welcoming the remedial action, ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said: "Truth in advertising is important.
"The overall impression of labelling on cereal products can have a significant influence on a consumer's purchasing decision."
Mr Samuel said: "Consumers can expect to rely upon the ingredient panel of cereal products. Therefore the information must clearly represent the actual contents of the product. Further, consumers can expect that the actual contents of a product match the overall impression given by the packaging."
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