Gut feelings.

Author: bespoke

24 June 2021 | Reading time: 2 minutes

We’ve all been drawn in by a catchy headline, for example, ‘shed 5kg in a day!’ Whilst this may seem like a great marketing tactic, claims such as these are very risky. Importantly, retailers must not mislead or deceive consumers.

Focus on health and nutritional claims

With society focusing more on healthy food choices, the ACCC is taking a more active role in monitoring retailers’ marketing of food products. A key ACCC concern is that the use of misleading or deceptive advertising by those retailers to gain a market advantage may be harmful to consumers.

The ACCC has reported that there will be an increased focus on nutritional or health claims made on the packaging of food products and marketing materials. If challenged, claims about a product’s health benefits must be substantiated by the retailer.

Food and your mind

Nutritional psychiatry is the connection between food and mental wellbeing. Whilst a number of studies preach the benefits of particular foods on mental wellbeing, a direct causal link is yet to be proven.

Making inaccurate or unsubstantiated claims about the quality and benefits gained from product consumption may be viewed as misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Also, health claims (such as the curing of a specific illness or something similar) should have regard to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – a code that includes legal standards for food additives, food safety, labelling and foods that need pre-approval.

What happens if you are caught?

Misleading and deceptive claims on marketing material and product packaging can leave your business exposed to some hefty ACL penalties.

Global food brand, Heinz, found out the hard way when its Australian arm was ordered to pay $2.25 million over its claims that its Little Kids Shredz products were healthy. Whilst the product contained some ingredients which may have been considered healthy, other components (such as the high sugar content) were not healthy and mislead consumers. This was an expensive price to pay for consumer law compliance.

Handy takeaway tips

  1. Always ensure your health claims are supported by sufficient evidence.
  2. Follow the guidelines under the Australian Consumer Law and Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code
  3. Ensure your marketing material and packaging does not mislead or deceive customers.
  4. Implement an inhouse consumer law compliance regime.

If unsure whether your product labels or marketing material may be considered misleading or deceptive, contact Bespoke. We will guide your business through the process.