Hid­den nas­ties leave a bad taste

Con­sumer NZ chief Sue Chetwin hopes to see more hon­est pack­ag­ing dis­played on food items

Weekend Herald - - News - Kirsty Wynn

Lunch-box fillers, su­per juices and rice rusks for tots are un­der fire for dis­play­ing im­ages and slo­gans im­ply­ing they’re health­ier than they are.

And some of the prod­ucts em­bla­zoned with gi­ant fruit or veg­eta­bles con­tain lit­tle more than 1 per cent of the im­age that helps sell them.

Con­sumer NZ has just named the re­cip­i­ents of its 2018 Bad Taste Food Awards with pop­u­lar brands such as Kel­logg’s, Nes­tle, Tegel and Fresh ’n Fruity in the Top 10.

The prod­ucts, nom­i­nated by the pub­lic, in­clude la­bels such as “low fat”, “whole­grain”, “no re­fined sugar”, “no ar­ti­fi­cial colours or flavours” and “nat­u­ral” but most con­tain be­tween three to 20 tea­spoons of sugar a serve.

Auck­land mum of three Kirstie Holmes said she was care­ful when buy­ing food for chil­dren Matilda, 7, Eli, 5, and Dul­cie, 3, but no­ticed some pack­ag­ing was at odds with the in­gre­di­ent list.

“I al­ways check the in­gre­di­ents when buy­ing some­thing new but some­times the pic­ture on the front gives you the wrong im­pres­sion,” Holmes said.

“We have bought a few of the things on the list in the past, in­clud­ing yo­ghurt, but now I make my own be­cause we want to avoid high sugar.”

Con­sumer NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Sue Chetwin said the awards high­lighted the claims food man­u­fac­tur­ers made when mar­ket­ing their prod­ucts.

Foods named in this year’s awards in­cluded some pro­moted as health­ier choices when they con­tained a lot of sugar.

Also on the list are foods pro­mot­ing their fruit and veg­etable con­tent, when they con­tain very lit­tle of it, and prod­ucts mak­ing “mean­ing­less an­i­mal wel­fare claims”.

Chetwin hoped the awards would lead to more hon­est pack­ag­ing that didn’t give the im­pres­sion a prod­uct was health­ier than it was.

She said E2 man­u­fac­turer Co­caCola la­belled its drink as a “sup­ple­mented food”, a term used when foods have been mod­i­fied to pro­vide a ben­e­fit be­yond meet­ing ba­sic nutri­tion needs.

“But we fail to see much ben­e­fit in con­sum­ing al­most 20 tea­spoons of sugar,” Chetwin said.

Nes­tle Nesquik ce­real claimed it was a “source of fi­bre”, but Chetwin said it also was 30 per cent sugar.

Na­ture Val­ley Crunchy Oats & Honey snack bars fea­tured three tea­spoons of sugar in each serve, while a 250ml glass of Sim­ply Squeezed Su­per Juice War­rior fea­tured seven tea­spoons of sugar.

And while a packet of Baby MumMum First Rice Rusks fea­tured pic­tures of veges on its box, the veg­etable con­tent was just 1.36 per cent.

Chetwin added claims by fresh chicken meat man­u­fac­tur­ers Tegel, Ing­ham’s and Pams of “cage-free” con­di­tions didn’t mean any­thing.

“Cage-free claims on your chicken might sound re­as­sur­ing but these claims are mean­ing­less and risk mis­lead­ing shop­pers about what they’re buy­ing,” Chetwin said.

“Chick­ens raised for meat aren’t kept in cages. And cage-free doesn’t mean free-range — the chooks don’t leave the shed.”

Liam Bald­win of Tegel said, like other brands, it used the cage-free la­bel to “dis­pel myths”.

“There are still a lot of peo­ple out there who think the chick­ens (for meat) are kept in cages so we are just as­sur­ing ev­ery­one it is an un­truth,” Bald­win said. “It’s like peo­ple be­liev­ing there are hor­mones added to chicken, which is also not true.”

Nes­tle said of the sugar con­tent in Nesquik ce­real, the recipe had been re­vised over the years and sugar and sat­u­rated fat re­duced and fi­bre and whole­grain con­tent dou­bled.

“Peo­ple choose choco­late-flavoured ce­re­als like Nesquik for taste, and there comes a point where you can’t re­duce sugar with­out sig­nif­i­cantly af­fect­ing the flavour, tex­ture and ‘bowl life’,” spokes­woman Mar­garet Stu­art said.

All Nes­tle ce­re­als met the Heart Foun­da­tion tar­get for sodium lev­els, had more than 2g of fi­bre and 8g of whole­grain per serve. Other com­pa­nies did not re­ply to re­quests for com­ment be­fore dead­line.

Photo / Dean Pur­cell / Her­ald graphic

Kirstie Holmes with her three kids Eli, Matilda and Dul­cie.

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