CHOICE launches ‘Shame the Claim’ campaign against “misleading labels”

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st September 2011

Australia’s main consumer advocacy group CHOICE has launched a nation-wide campaign against food product labels which carry misleading nutrition claims.

It has called on Australian consumers to identify products with claims about ‘reduced fat,’ ‘low carb’ and ‘high in fibre’.

CHOICE is calling for consumers to become actively involved in ‘Shame the Claim’ searches. This is the latest move in CHOICE’s on-going campaign against nutrition claims on food product labels in Australia that CHOICE feels are being over-used in a selective way that does not reveal the full picture about the less healthy nutrients in the same product.
To illustrate these types of nutrition claims, CHOICE picked a selection of supermarket products which carry some of the more common nutrition claims and analysed them against Traffic Light nutritional criteria.

CHOICE believes all food products that carry a nutrition or health claim should comply with an agreed nutrient profiling system. This system makes an overall calculation based on the healthy and unhealthy attributes of a product. The overall score determines whether a product is healthy enough to carry a claim.

Consumers are asked to send in examples of products that carry misleading nutrition and health claims. CHOICE will then create a ‘Wall of Shame’ to present to Australia’s governments.

CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just said, “Australians are being confused by nutrition claims. Supermarket aisles are littered with products that make ‘99% fat free’ or ‘high in protein’ claims which are often a cover for their high sugar content. Similarly, claims like ‘source of wholegrains’, or ‘low sugar’ may be drawing attention away from a product’s high saturated fat levels.

CHOICE is calling for stronger government action. Between now and the end of the year, the government has a “once in a generation opportunity” to act on the Blewett Food Labelling Review Panel’s recommendations, according to Ms Just.