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Unilever and Smith’s fined for misleading health claims

The ACCC has fined Unilever Australia and The Smith’s Snackfood Company $10,800 each for misleading claims about the nutritional value of products from Paddle Pop and Sakata.

The ACCC claimed both companies made false or misleading representations on the packaging of each product, Paddle Pop Rainbow (10 pack) and Sakata Paws Pizza Supreme Rice Snacks, alleging they had been approved or were suitable as healthy options for school canteens.

Unilver’s Paddle Pop Rainbow (10 pack) packaging included a logo on the front, back and one side of the packaging with the words “School Canteen Approved” and a tick symbol.

Smith’s Sakata Paws Pizza Supreme Rice Snacks included a logo with the words “Meets School Canteen Guidelines” and an image of a sandwich and apple.

Both products’ packaging included a disclaimer that the product met the ‘Amber’ criteria of the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines, however, they were in a small font size and on a different side to the logos. According to the NHSC Guidelines, an ‘Amber’ category product should be ‘selected carefully’ rather than eaten regularly or in large amounts.

The ACCC did not consider these disclaimers were sufficiently prominent to correct the misleading representations created by the logos.

“The ACCC believes both companies were using logos to claim that these products were a healthy option for school canteens to supply to children, when they were not,” ACCC commissioner, Sarah Court, said.

“School canteen managers, parents and caregivers rely upon product packaging and labelling when choosing healthy snacks for children. The ACCC is currently examining consumer protection issues around ensuring that the health claims made by large businesses are accurate and will not mislead consumers.”

Unilever and Smith’s have informed the ACCC they will both stop using the logos on their product packaging.

The Department of Health established the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines (NHSC) Guidelines in 2010 to provide training and guidance to school canteen managers so they can make informed assessments of the nutritional value of food and drink that may be supplied in school canteens

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