When is a calorie not a calorie: Albany to change kJ controlled bread packaging after rival’s complaint

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Albany is changing the claims on the labels of its Ultima kJ Controlled Bread. Pic: Albany
Albany is changing the claims on the labels of its Ultima kJ Controlled Bread. Pic: Albany

Related tags Albany Tiger Brands Premier foods South africa Labelling Regulation Calorie kilojoule

The South African bread producer – which is owned by Tiger Brands – has to change the claims made on the packaging of its Ultima kJ Controlled Bread.

On the label, Albany claims its brown bread contains ‘only 67 calories per slice.’

However, Albany’s biggest competitor, Premier Foods, lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that Albany’s use of calories – as opposed to kilojoules (kJ) – was in contravention of SA’s labeling regulations, which require that energy content is also represented as kilojoules.

Consumer confusion

Premier Foods argued South Africans expect to read kilojoules on packaging and may mistakenly buy something because they misread the calories for kilojoules.

The calorie count is substantially lower than the kJ count, with one calorie equating to 4.18kJ. Therefore, 57 calories equals 280 kilojoules.

It added the bread’s energy content is more than five times higher than the maximum allowed kJ count for ‘low energy’ products.

Regulations state ‘low energy’ is anything below 170kJ per 100g. Albany Ultimate is ‘substantially higher’ at 861kJ per 100g.

Complied with regulation

Parent company Tiger Brands counter argued Albany’s Ultima complied with regulations, which do not completely disallow the use of the word ‘calories’. It also noted regulations deem that kilojoules must be listed on the back of the packaging in the nutritional table.

It also stated Albany Ultima falls in the health and wellness segment of the bread market‚ aimed at lifestyle-conscious consumers.

“They are conscious about calorie density of foods and they try to choose food products that are kilojoule-controlled. These are the kinds of consumers who would read food labels,”​ said the company.

Change to labeling

However, the Gauteng-based company offered to drop the word ‘only’ and add ‘Calorie Counter.’

Ultima brown bread’s new packaging will now read ‘Calorie Counter – 67 calories per slice.’

The phrase ‘Portion control to manage dietary requirements’ will also be added after the disclaimer ‘kilojoule controlled.’

The ASA ruled the word ‘calories’ by itself was not misleading and the nutritional table on the back of the bread contained the kilojoules.

“Any consumer on a kilojoule restricted diet would be able to access this information easily,”​ it said.

It accepted Tiger Brands’ undertaking to change the Ultima labeling.

Last year, Premier faced a similar situation and had to remove the ‘only 95 kcal per square’ claim from its Blue Ribbon bread, following a ruling by the ASA.

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