Food giant Heinz is being taken to court for allegedly misleading consumers about how much sugar is packed into some of its snacks marketed at toddlers.
The consumer watchdog said on Tuesday that it was launching federal court action against the multinational in relation to its Little Kids Shredz products.
Heinz falsely marketing Shredz toddler products as healthy, says watchdog https://t.co/hmMZwQsNei— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) June 21, 2016
The products' packets feature images of fresh fruit and vegetables and phrases like "99 per cent fruit and veg", even though they contain more than 60 per cent sugar.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) boss Rod Simms said, by contrast, an apple contained about 10 percent sugar.
TONIGHT | Heinz in hot water over baby food claims. pic.twitter.com/xpvuCxg4dV— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) June 21, 2016
The ACCC's action relates to the snack's 'peach apple and veg', 'berries apple and veg', and 'strawberry & apple with chia seeds' varieties. They have been available in supermarkets nationwide since late 2013.
The food is aimed at 1 to 3-year-olds, the watchdog says.
The ACCC alleges that Heinz made false and misleading representations, and engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public.
"These Heinz Shredz products are likely to inhibit the development of a child's taste for natural fruit and vegetables and encourage a child to become accustomed to, and develop a preference for, sweet tastes," Simms said in a statement.
The ACCC's action was triggered by a Obesity Policy Coalition complaint about food products for toddlers that make fruit and vegetable claims but are mostly made from sugar-rich fruit juice concentrate and pastes.
The World Health Organisation recommends limiting the intake of foods containing fruit juice concentrate to reduce the risk of obesity and tooth decay.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective notices and costs.