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Packaged foods delivering misleading health claims: survey

Some packaged foods carry misleading information about fruit and vegetable content on their packaging, Cancer Council NSW says.

Almost half (48 percent) of the packaged fruit and vegetable-based products surveyed by Cancer Council NSW made fruit and vegetable claims on the packaging, despite some having as little as 13 percent fruit content.

Co-author of the report and Nutrition Program Manager at Cancer Council NSW, Clare Hughes, said that as well as exploring fruit and/or vegetable content, the study also looked at the nutrient make-up of these products.

“What we found was that these products contained much less dietary fibre and much more energy, saturated fat, sugar and sodium than their fresh fruit or vegetable equivalent, making them a poor substitute for the real thing,” she said in a statement.

Currently, these foods do not have to meet Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code nutrient criteria to be able to carry these claims and so can appear, without regulation, on products which are nutritionally unhealthy.

Cancer Council NSW is urging the Australian government to strengthen the Food Standards Code which does not currently regulate fruit and vegetable claims on food labels.

“We need tighter regulation of products that may lead Australians to believe they are contributing positively to their recommended two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables per day, where instead they are consuming less fibre, and more energy, saturated fat, sugar and sodium,” said Hughes.

Roll Ups, made by Nestle, are a product which makes the claim "made with real fruit" on its packaging.

A Nestle spokeswoman told the Age that was not a health claim, but a content claim.

"Roll Ups contain concentrated puree from real fruit as clearly stated in the ingredient list on the back of the pack," she said.

"Roll Ups are a fun, portion-controlled treat."

 

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