Heinz accused of falsely marketing ‘healthy’ toddler snack

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Heinz is in court over the alleged misleading marketing of its toddler snacks, Shedz. Pic: ©iStock/StockPlanets
Heinz is in court over the alleged misleading marketing of its toddler snacks, Shedz. Pic: ©iStock/StockPlanets

Related tags Nutrition

HJ Heinz Australia has been taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which alleges the food manufacturer engaged in misleading representations on the packs of its Little Kids Shredz products.

It has been accused of marketing its toddler snacks as “healthy”​ when they are actually packed with sugar, in some cases, according to ACCC counsel Tom Duggan SC, containing more than 60% sugar.

However, Heniz told BakeryandSnacks it “strongly rejects the claims made by the ACC.”

Just a spoon full of sugar…


Shredz snacks are made from dehydrated fruit and vegetables as well as concentrated fruit juice and fruit paste, sold in 18 g packs containing five packets of fruit bars.

According to the consumer watchdog, the food giant made three misrepresentations on its packaging, including:

  • It had the same nutritional value as fresh fruit
  • It was a nutritious food for children aged one to three
  • It would encourage healthy eating habits.

Nutrient rich

Duggan told the court there was the equivalent of 3 tsp of sugar in each 18 g pack, but Heinz dietician Christine Weaver said that was acceptable for a toddler snack because it was "portion-controlled” ​and came from “naturally occurring fruit and vegetables."

However, nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton said, although the snacks contained some nutritional ingredients, they “were more like confectionery.”

A Heinz spokesperson told this site the products have “a similar nutrition profile to dried apple or sultanas.”

Counsel for Heinz, Rowena Orr, told the court the presence of nutrients like Vitamin C, beta carotene, fibre, potassium, magnesium, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids meant the products could not be considered “nutrient poor.”

Orr also contended the ACCC’s argument depends on consumers reading the packaging selectively, particularly the nutritional information, and interpreting it in an unrealistic way.

According to Orr, “Heinz will be able to show that Shredz had nutritional value, as do other dried fruit products such as sultanas and as such, are nutritious and beneficial to the health of children, as part of a balanced diet.”

Misleading the public

Duncan Harrod, media representative of the ACCC, told this site the Commission is unable to comment on matters before the court.

However, in a statement issued when proceedings were instituted in June last year, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said:“The ACCC has brought these proceedings because it alleges that Heinz is marketing these products as healthy options for young children when they are not.

“The ACCC wants to make clear that major companies have an obligation under the Australian Consumer Law to ensure products’ health claims do not mislead the public.”

Shredz was launched in 2013 but has since been taken off the shelves.

Final submissions are due to be heard by Judge Richard White today (Friday, July 28).

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