Arnott’s pays $51,000 for alleged misleading claims

Arnott’s Biscuits Ltd (Arnott’s) has paid penalties and provided a court-enforceable undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission following the issue of five infringement notices relating to representations made about Arnott’s Shapes Light & Crispy product.

Arnott’s represented on the packs of four varieties of Shapes Light & Crispy and a multipack between October 2014 and July 2015 that Shapes Light & Crispy contained “75 per cent less saturated fat” than Arnott’s’ original Shapes biscuits, when in fact it contained around 60 per cent less saturated fat than original Shapes.

In making the “75 per cent less saturated fat” representation, Arnott’s was actually comparing its Shapes Light & Crispy product not to original Shapes but to potato chips cooked in 100 per cent palm oil. This was included in a fine-print disclaimer at the bottom of the packs. However, even if potato chips had been an appropriate comparison for the saturated-fat content of Shapes Light & Crispy, the ACCC noted that since only around 20 per cent of potato chips sold in Australia were cooked in palm oil, the representation may still have been misleading.

“Consumers should be able to trust the claims that businesses make to sell their products,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “Small-print disclaimers cannot correct false or misleading representations which are made in a prominent way in advertising or on packaging.

“Businesses must ensure that any comparison claims they make are accurate and based on meaningful comparisons for consumers. This is particularly the case regarding claims that involve healthier eating.”

Arnott’s has provided a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that it will not engage in similar conduct for a period of three years. It will also publish a corrective notice on its website and in the nationally published Foodmagazine.

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