An overweight person
IN PHOTO: An overweight person REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Arnott’s biscuit paid $51,000 in penalties for making misleading claims on the packaging of their four shapes products, following the infringement notices by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Their new products were falsely labelled as having 75 percent less saturated fat content than the original shapes biscuits, breaching the Australian Consumer Law.

The “75 percent less saturated fat” claim appeared on the packaging of Shapes Light & Crispy between October 2014 and July 2015. However, the product only contained 60 percent less saturated fat, ACCC said in a press release.

In their defense, Arnott’s insisted that the claim was made in comparison to any potato chips cooked in 100 percent palm oil with the fine print written at the bottom of each pack. Nevertheless, ACCC maintained that it was still misleading since only 20 percent of potato chips sold in Australia are cooked in palm oil.

“Consumers should be able to trust the claims that businesses make to sell their products,” said Rod Sims, chairman of ACCC. “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,” Sims added. “Truth in advertising, particularly where misleading claims are made by large businesses, is a priority enforcement area for the ACCC.”

“Arnott’s believed that consumers were familiar with this claim due to its long term use on some potato chips,” a spokesperson for Arnott’s said, Sydney Morning Herald reports. “Although the claim has been removed from packs, the product recipe and ingredients remain the same.”

Arnott’s has provided the ACCC with a section 87B showing that it will not repeat the same procedures for product comparison for three years. It will also publish a corrective notice on its Web site and in Food Magazine and employ a supplementary compliance program designed to minimise Arnott’s’ risk of breaching the law.

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