The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has fined Arnott’s Biscuits $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.
The fine print on Arnott’s Shapes Light & Crispy products revealed Arnott’s was actually comparing its Light & Crispy product not to original Shapes but to potato chips cooked in 100 per cent palm oil.
“Consumers should be able to trust the claims that businesses make to sell their products. Small print disclaimers cannot correct false or misleading representations which are made in a prominent way in advertising or on packaging,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“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.”
“Truth in advertising, particularly where misleading claims are made by large businesses, is a priority enforcement area for the ACCC,” Sims said.
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.
An Arnott’s spokesperson has told B&T: “Arnott’s acknowledges it was not made sufficiently clear to consumers that Shapes Light & Crispy was intended to be compared to potato chips, rather than the original Shapes savoury biscuits. Shapes Light & Crispy actually contain on average 60% less saturated fat than original Shapes.
“Arnott’s further acknowledges the ACCC’s concerns about the appropriateness of this comparison where approximately 80 per cent of potato chips available in Australia are not cooked in palmolein oil. Arnott’s believed that consumers were familiar with this claim due to its long term use on some potato chips. Unlike the original Shapes range, the Light & Crispy range contains potato flakes and has a taste, texture and appearance similar to potato chips.
“The packs displaying this claim have been phased out. Arnott’s wishes to emphasise that although the claim has been removed from packs, the product recipe and ingredients remain the same.”