Uncle Tobys Oats has been hit with a $32,400 bill from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for exaggerating the benefits of Uncle Tobys Quick Sachet and Traditional oats were a “natural source of protein, superfood” which is false.
The packaging of Uncle Tobys ‘Quick Sachets’ oats contained the statement ‘Natural Source of Protein* Superfood’, and the packaging of Uncle Tobys ‘Traditional Oats’ contained the statement ‘Naturally Rich in Protein* Superfood’. The product packaging in each case contained the disclaimer “*when prepared with [1/2 or 2/3] cup of skim milk”, which appeared in fine print below the misleading statements.
The ACCC said the claims made false or misleading representations about the protein content of certain Uncle Tobys brand oats products, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The ACCC alleged that by:
- combining the words ‘natural source’ / ‘naturally rich’, ‘protein’ and ‘superfood’ in the statements on the packaging and in a television commercial; and
- presenting the word ‘protein’ prominently in the centre of the front of the packet in a bright colour and in large font sizes,
“Consumers should be able to purchase food products based on accurate health and composition claims. While the ACCC acknowledges that oats have many health benefits, on their own they are not high in protein, contrary to the representations made about these Uncle Tobys products,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Business should be aware that a fine print disclaimer is insufficient to correct or qualify a prominent representation on packaging or in advertising that is false or misleading. Truth in advertising, particularly where misleading claims are made by large businesses, is a priority enforcement area for the ACCC.”
Earlier this week, Arnott’s Biscuits was fined $51, 000 following five infringement notices relating to representations of Arnott’s Shapes Light & Crispy product. The ACCC has found Arnott’s packs of four varieties of Shapes Light & Crispy and a multipack between October 2014 and July 2015 contained “75% less saturated fat” than Arnott’s’ original Shapes biscuits, when in fact it contained approximately 60 per cent less saturated fat than original Shapes.