Heinz ordered to pay $2m fine for misleading consumers

Heinz ketchup

Global food giant Heinz was ordered by the Federal Court on Friday to pay a fine of $2.25 million for misleading health claims on its Little Kids Shredz products.

Earlier this year, the Federal Court found that the company had breached consumer law by wrongfully claiming the snacks were beneficial to kids aged 1-3 years.

When handing down the fine, Justice Richard White also ordered the company to set up a consumer protection compliance program.

The product which was pulled from shelves in May 2016 contained approximately two-thirds sugar. The court found that Heinz nutritionists ought to have known that it would be misleading to state the snack was beneficial to children.

The ACCC had sought a penalty of $10 million for Heinz.

Chair of the ACCC Rod Sims said the association will continue to seek strong penalties against big brands for such breaches.

“The Heinz Group is one of the largest food companies in the world. 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,” Sims said.

“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,” he added.

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