The Federal Court of Australia has ordered food giant Heinz to pay penalties totalling $2.25 million for making a misleading health claim in its product marketing.
In March 2018, the Federal Court found that Heinz had breached the Australian Consumer Law by claiming its Little Kids Shredz products were beneficial to the health of children aged one to three years, when this was not the case.
The court also found that Heinz nutritionists ought to have known that a representation that a product containing approximately two-thirds sugar was beneficial to health of children was misleading.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had sought a penalty of $10 million for Heinz.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said: “We will continue to advocate for stronger penalties to deter large companies from engaging in serious contraventions of Australia’s consumer laws, particularly now that Parliament has passed legislation substantially increasing the maximum penalties for breaches of the ACL.
“The ACCC wants to ensure that penalties for breaches of the consumer law are large enough to get the attention of the financial markets, boards and senior management.”
The ACCC is carefully considering the court’s judgment.
The court also ordered Heinz to establish a consumer law compliance program and to pay the ACCC’s costs.