Choice takes aim at ‘school canteen approved’ claims

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Choice has taken aim at manufacturers behind products such as Paddle Pops, Tiny Teddies, and Shapes for allegedly misleading parents by using self-made school canteen certifications on packaging, following an investigation by the consumer advocacy group.

“Choice found 17 different industry-made certifications that have manipulated the school canteen guidelines to promote nutrient-poor and processed foods,” says Choice spokesperson, Tom Godfrey.

“These certifications claiming to be ‘school canteen approved’ are leading parents into believing products with these logos are a healthier option for their kids,” Godfrey said.

“School canteen guidelines exist to inform canteen managers on how to prepare their menus. Now we have food in supermarkets promoting an ‘amber rating’, which in a canteen setting means they should be ‘selected carefully’. Without the context of the guidelines, these claims are pushing unhealthy options.”

Choice’s research found that 43 per cent of parents believed that products with these logos are healthier than similar products without logos, and 42 per cent would be more likely to choose a product with one of these logos than a similar product without the logo.

Choice found that these logos predominantly appear on processed snacks with little or no nutritional value. Many products with these logos, such as Arnott’s 100s & 1000s Tiny Teddies, Monster Noodle Snacks, and Parker’s Pretzel Snacks only get a health star rating of two or less.

“Our message to parents is simple: don’t trust the claims made by Arnott’s Tiny Teddies and other junk food companies around canteen certification.”

“School canteen approved logos are essentially acting as health halos for processed, packaged foods. With one in four children in Australia overweight or obese, we need labels that make it easier to make healthier decisions.

“These labels aren’t accredited or approved by an independent body, they are created by the food companies themselves. Despite this, 43 per cent of parents believe these logos have been approved by an independent authority or government body, and more than one third think that the use of these logos by food manufacturers is regulated,” Godfrey said.

“We recommend that food companies replace these certifications with health star ratings so that consumers are able to make fair and easy comparisons between food products.”

Choice has today launched a campaign calling on food manufacturers to remove these self-made certifications off their products: choice.com.au/dodgylogos.

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