CHOICE condemns “healthy” food marketing
Australian consumer organisation CHOICE says a food industry marketing technique called the ‘’halo effect’ is misleading customers.
The halo effect has been described by CHOICE as when companies sell their brand as being a healthy alternative, although this is not always the case.
In new research conducted by CHOICE the organisation looked at 117 different supermarket foods only to discover that customers often think they are buying healthy when they are not.
CHOICE looked at a variety of different products and have come back to consumers with a number of products to be aware of.
One key example from their findings is explained by CHOICE spokesperson, Tom Godfrey who called out McCain on behalf of his organisation.
“When you look at two McCain frozen pasta meals – one promoted with ‘healthy choice’ branding, images of herbs and claims of whole grains and chia seeds, and the other with regular company branding – consumers would be forgiven for thinking the first one is a healthier choice,” said Mr Godfrey.
“Surprisingly, both products receive 3.5 health stars, with the ‘healthy choice’ meal containing more sugars and sodium per 100g and a price premium of 23% per 100g,” said Mr Godfrey.
CHOICE also pointed out how some foods are just as healthy as ones which do not make health claims, but consumers are paying more money for the option marketed as healthy.
A comparison is made between Woolworths Select and Weight Watchers risottos as an example. Woolworths Select chicken and mushroom risotto and Weight Watchers Sweet potato and pumpkin risotto both have a health star rating of 3 and a half stars, The Weight Watchers option costs 87 per cent more than the Woolworths Select product however.
Snack foods appeared to be a big focus of the research with CHOICE finding fault within the muesli bar and cracker industry. They found that Mother Earth Baked Oaty Slice said it was a source of fibre, a whole grain cereal and had no artificial colours or flavours when it only has 1.5 stars.
Sun Health macadamia and honey bars only got a 1 star despite using the word health in its branding.
In regards to crackers, Tuckers Natural gourmet rosemary and rock salt crackers were pointed out for claiming that they were ‘naturally better for you’, yeast free 100 % natural with no artificial preservatives, colours and flavours yet it only has a 1.5 star rating.
CHOICE also said ‘Naturally Good’ buckwheat crispbread makes health claims about being gluten free, having no added cane sugar and being GMO free but only has a 0.5 star rating.